Inlays and Onlays: All You Need to Know

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Dental issues such as cavities and tooth decay are mainly treated by your dentist with the use of fillings or crowns. These are the most common terms that you may have heard when it comes to treating such dental problems. However, there are alternate methods to treat the decay and cavities in your teeth which are known as inlays and onlays. These alternate methods will be used by your dentist to fill the gaps in your teeth in specific cases.

What is Inlays?

An inlay dental appliance is similar to crown dentistry where it is used to fix a tooth that is affected by decay or cavity. The major difference is that an inlay is used to fix a small portion of the tooth that cannot be treated with a filling. To be precise, an inlay is used to fill the gap between the cusps of teeth.


  • An inlay dental appliance will be fixed between the cusps of your tooth without affecting them.
  • Inlays are made out of certain materials that will provide better strength than conventional fillings.
  • Inlays can be designed to match the colour of your teeth to blend in properly.


  • Due to the high-grade material used in an inlay, it will be more expensive than a conventional filling.
  • The tooth inlay procedure will take a longer time to be fixed on your tooth because of the complexity.

What is Onlays?

Dental onlays are used to fix the cavity or decay between the cusps of a tooth as well as the surrounding area. An onlay is used to fix tooth decay or cavity by fixing it on the required part of the tooth including the chewing surface. Compared to a dental crown, an onlay will not cover the entire surface of the tooth, but rather just cover the required areas.


  • Onlays in dentistry can also increase the strength of a damaged tooth along with treating the cavity or decay.
  • Most of the tooth structure will be preserved with the fitting of an onlay on the affected area.
  • An onlay can last on your tooth for several years if your oral care is maintained properly.


  • Hard or chewy food products can affect the onlay bond, so you need to avoid such food products with time.
  • Compared to a dental crown, fitting an onlay on your tooth will be more expensive.

Difference Between the Inlays & Onlays

The difference between inlays and onlays mainly lies in the type of treatment in which they are used. Inlays are used to treat cavities that cannot be effectively treated with the use of conventional fillings. On the other hand, onlays are used to treat tooth decay that may not need an intrusive treatment like the placement of dental crowns. Another major difference is that inlays will only cover the tooth area between the cusps whereas onlays will cover a larger area including the cusps.

How Long Do Inlays and Onlays Last?

The inlay onlay pair of dental appliances are made from a porcelain or composite material which makes them highly durable. Once fitted on your teeth, inlays and onlays can last for several years, probably up to 30 years. However, the durability of these dental appliances depends on the degree of oral care that you will maintain.

Cost Of Inlays and Onlays Treatment

The cost of inlays and onlays treatment depends on a variety of factors. The cost for an onlays treatment will be higher compared to an inlays treatment. The type of material you choose will also play a vital part in deciding the price. Inlays or onlays made from porcelain will cost more compared to ones made from composite material. The choice of gold inlays or onlays will be more economical compared to porcelain material. Considering all these factors, the cost for inlays and onlays treatment can range anywhere between ₹ 5,000 - ₹ 10,000 in India.

The use of inlays and onlays is a great way to fix cavities and decays in your teeth effectively. Your dentist will recommend the use of these dental appliances in your teeth when required. You can choose the type of material you want to be fitted depending on your budget. Overall, you can be assured to experience a durable and effective treatment with these inlays and onlays.

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