Dental Inlays vs. Onlays: Which Restoration Option Is Right for You?

When it comes to restoring damaged or decayed teeth, dental professionals offer a variety of solutions to ensure both functionality and aesthetics are preserved. Two commonly recommended options are dental inlays and onlays in Downtown Calgary, each designed to repair and protect teeth while maintaining their natural appearance.

Explore the differences between dental inlays and onlays with your dentist; they can help you make an informed decision about which restoration option is right for you.

Dental Inlays

Dental inlays are restorations that are used when a tooth has a cavity or damage that is too extensive for a simple filling but not severe enough to acquire a dental crown. Porcelain, composite resin, or gold are common materials used in inlays. The process involves removing the decayed or damaged portion of the tooth and then placing a custom-made inlay into the prepared cavity.

Advantages of Dental Inlays

  • Conservative approach, preserving more natural tooth structure.
  • Customizable materials for a natural appearance.
  • Long-lasting and durable.

Dental Onlays

Dental onlays, also known as partial crowns, are similar to inlays but cover a larger portion of the tooth. They are recommended by our dentist in downtown Calgary when the damage or decay extends to the tooth cusps or biting surfaces. Onlays are custom-made to fit the specific contours of the tooth and are bonded in place to restore both form and function.

Advantages of Dental Onlays

  • Covers a larger surface area, providing more extensive tooth restoration.
  • Customized materials for aesthetics and strength.
  • When compared to crowns, it preserves more natural tooth structure.

Key Differences Between Dental Inlays and Onlays


  • Inlays: Fit within the tooth’s cusps
  • Onlays: Cover one or more cusps and additional surface areas.

Tooth Structure

  • Inlays: More conservative, preserving the natural tooth structure.
  • Onlays: Involve more removal of tooth structure, especially cusps.


  • Inlays: Used for smaller areas of damage or decay.
  • Onlays: Recommended for more extensive damage involving cusps.


  • Inlays: Involves removal, impression, and later cementing of the inlay.
  • Onlays: Similar to inlays but addresses the replacement of one or more cusps.

Factors to Consider

  • Extent of Damage: If the damage is limited to the center of the tooth, an inlay may be sufficient. If the cusps are involved, an onlay might be more appropriate.
  • Material Preferences: Consider the material options for both inlays and onlays. Porcelain and composite resin are popular choices for their natural appearance, while gold may be recommended for its durability.
  • Aesthetic Concerns: If maintaining a natural appearance is a top priority, discuss with your dentist the cosmetic options available for both inlays and onlays.

Final Thoughts on Choosing the Right Restoration

The decision between dental inlays and onlays near you depends on the extent of tooth damage and the location of the decay. Your dentist will assess your case and recommend the most suitable option for optimal results.

It’s important to consider all the factors when making your decision. Discuss your preferences and concerns with your dentist to ensure that the chosen restoration aligns with your oral health goals.

Whether you opt for a dental inlay or an onlay, both options offer effective and conservative solutions for restoring damaged teeth. Regular dental check-ups and early intervention are key to maintaining a healthy smile. Consult with a dentist near you to determine the best course of action for your unique dental needs and enjoy the benefits of a restored and functional smile.

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