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Inlays Onlays Benefits and Side Effects


Inlays and onlays can be used to restore teeth damaged by dental decay and cavities. The majority of Americans that have developed minor to moderate tooth decay have their cavities treated with dental fillings, while dental crowns are used to support teeth that are severely decayed. Many of these patients are not aware that inlays and onlays are an excellent alternative to fillings and crowns. Learn more about the benefits and risks of dental inlays and onlays.

Inlays and Onlays Benefits

Inlays and onlays are more durable, require less tooth removal, and are less likely to discolor over time as compared to dental fillings and crowns. The benefits of inlays and onlays include:

Tooth Preservation

When dentists use inlays or onlays to restore teeth, they do not remove as much of the tooth's natural structure.


Inlays and onlays are made from stronger, more durable materials than dental fillings and crowns. Inlays and onlays typically last longer and provide additional strength and support to damaged teeth.


Dental fillings can expand and contract after they are placed due to temperature changes. Inlays and onlays are custom fit to the individual before they are placed in mouth, providing a better fit than fillings. Inlays and onlays are also ideal for treating decay tight spaces, including cavities located between the teeth.


Inlays and onlays are more resistant to stains and tooth discolorations than the materials used in dental fillings and crowns.


Because inlays and onlays offer a custom fit, they are easier to clean and bacteria are less likely to enter the affected area after treatment.

Inlays and Onlays Side Effects

Though fillings and crowns are generally used to restore damaged teeth, inlays and onlays are considered by many to be a superior treatment. That being said, there are potential risks and side effects associated with any type of dental treatment, including the placement of inlays and onlays.

Tooth Sensitivity

Many patients experience increased tooth sensitivity or pain after undergoing dental treatments such as the removal of tooth decay and placement of inlays and onlays, fillings, or crowns. Though pain generally subsides within a few days of dental treatment, patients that feel pain should avoid hot, cold, and crunchy foods in the days following their appointments with the dentist.

Bacterial Infection

Patients that have tooth decay removed and the tooth restored with inlays, onlays, or any other treatment face the risk of bacteria getting trapped and sealed within the tooth. A small percentage of patients will need to revisit the dentist for additional treatment if bacteria further damage the tooth.

Inlays and Onlays Replacement

Though inlays and onlays are longer lasting than dental fillings and crowns, they will eventually need to be replaced. Experts say that composite fillings can be expected to last about five to seven years; silver amalgram fillings last an estimated 12 years on average; crowns last 10 to 15 years. Inlays and onlays generally do not need to be replaced for 20 to 30 years.

Contact a Dentist

If you are interested in learning about the benefits of inlays and onlays as compared to dental fillings and crowns, schedule an exam with a local dentist today. A dentist can examine your teeth and determine if you have any dental decay that should be treated with inlays, onlays, or another dental treatment.

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