Overview of Tooth Inlay and Onlay Treatments

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recent study highlights that as many as 41% of Australians put off their regular dental visits due to persistent lockdowns and health concerns in the last three years.

Moreover, increased stress led to a higher-than-normal incidence of cracked and chipped teeth during this time.

If you’re one of those unfortunate people suffering from tooth decay or a damaged tooth, a tooth inlay or outlay could offer relief. Keep reading to find out more about these types of restorative dental procedures.

What Is a Tooth Inlay or Onlay?

Onlay fit the top surfaces of damaged molars to restore your natural bite alignment. Dentists design them carefully to match your other teeth. 

An Inlay is a custom made insert that fits inside the prepared tooth. It helps stabilise the area surrounding the damaged tooth and prevent further decay.

Inlays and onlays generally require less preparation and shaping of your teeth than crowns, so they preserve more of your natural tooth structure. They can fully restore your ability to bite and chew and prevent further damage from chips, cracks, and small cavities. 

While the materials used to craft inlays and outlays can’t match the strength of biological tissue, studies show they’re durable enough to last for five to ten years.

What’s an Inlay for a Tooth Made From?

Most inlays are made from porcelain, gold, or composite materials. Each has its benefits, as follows:

  • Gold is strong, malleable, and very expensive
  • Porcelain is strong, durable, and looks natural
  • Composite resin is durable and the cheapest option 

Stain resistance is important when one considers the long lifespan of outlays and inlays. Of the three, composite materials offer the least stain resistance. Gold and porcelain won’t discolour. 

Gold doesn’t blend in with your teeth and can seem like an ostentatious choice, while you’ll barely notice your porcelain or composite tooth inlay. 

What are the Benefits of This Type of Restorative Dentistry?

While restorative dentistry is a type of cosmetic dentistry, it does have health benefits too. By preventing further decay and restoring tooth strength, inlay and outlay treatments can prevent serious problems like tooth loss and gingivitis. 

How Does the Procedure Work?

Inserting an inlay or outlay is a relatively uncomplicated procedure with only two steps. They are:


Your dentist will shape and prepare your tooth and make an impression of it. They’ll insert a temporary filling to preserve your tooth while the laboratory manufactures the required inlay or onlay.

Fitting the Inlay or Outlay

When you return to the visit, your dentist will remove the temporary filling and put the inlay or onlay in place. Finally, they’ll bond the restoration to your tooth and polish it for a natural look. 

Are You a Good Candidate for a Tooth Inlay?

Inlays and outlays occupy the middle ground between fillings and dental crowns. Fillings can’t support larger cavities, but you’ll need a dental crown if you have a very large cavity or chip in your tooth.

Visiting an experienced Bondi dentist is the best way to assess whether an inlay or outlay is a good choice for you. 

Book an appointment with The Bondi Dentists to discover whether a tooth inlay is the best solution for your damaged teeth.