What is an Inlay? What is an Onlay? What’s the Difference Between Them?

What Is An Inlay What Is An Onlay Whats The Difference Between Them DDS Monroe Michigan

Dental inlays and onlays are used to restore damaged teeth. They’re made and customized during a dental procedure known as a restorative or dental crown. An inlay is an object that is placed into an object while an onlay is placed over top of an object. Let’s dig deeper into the difference between them, shall we?

What is an Inlay?

There are two types of inlays: direct and indirect inlays. With both, there’s no need for cutting or grinding because they fit right over existing teeth. It can be attached either in a dental lab in your dentist’s office or in the same appointment. Direct inlays are the more common form and require less tooth prep, meaning they can be a better option for your natural teeth. In addition, direct inlays have an etched surface that matches the shape of existing enamel to help it stay in place when bonded with dental adhesive. Indirect inlays involve additional material or support underneath the damaged area of ​​the tooth, while direct inlays use etched surfaces to help anchor it to the existing

What is an Onlay?

Dental onlays are a dental restoration. Dental onlays are in many ways similar to dental inlays, except for the fact that they’re bigger and made differently. In addition, onlays are designed to cover an entire tooth, whereas inlays only cover a portion. Onlays are used specifically for decay and damage to the cusps of a tooth as well as the biting areas. Your dental provider will often choose onlays when the damaged area is too great for the use of a standard filling. Think of onlays as the step before needing anything more invasive like a root canal.


An onlay is a less invasive restoration than a crown when it can be performed, as less tooth structure needs to be removed. An inlay is great since there is no cutting or grinding involved. Our experienced dentist will help you choose the best treatment for your situation. Contact us today to schedule your next cleaning.