lab made filling, indirect filling

Almost everyone has heard of dental fillings and crowns. If you have a cavity or broken tooth, a crown or filling will almost always be the go-to treatment option to save your smile. But there’s another, lesser-known pair of restorations that offer a middle-ground alternative to these common treatments. They’re called inlays and onlays. Or as some people like to refer to them, three-quarter crowns.


Like the three-quarter crown nickname suggests, inlays and onlays only take up a portion of the tooth rather than cover it entirely. In many scenarios, an inlay or onlay may restore 1/2 to 2/3 of a tooth’s structure.


Inlays and onlays differ from one another, in that one primarily goes inside of a tooth while the other helps rebuild outer elements (like the biting edges or “cusps.”).


Inlays: Lab Made Fillings


An inlay can almost be described as a lab-made filling. Inlays go inside of teeth where there are large areas of damage from past decay. But since they’re crafted like a unique puzzle piece designed to fit your tooth, inlays offer added durability for everyday biting and chewing. They’re usually crafted out of a color-matching ceramic, but they can also be made from precious metals such as gold. A good time to consider an inlay is if you have an extremely large cavity but the tooth cannot support a traditional dental filling. Since inlays are a solid lab-made restoration, they offer a higher level of integrity even if there is a significant area of tooth damage.


Onlays: Added Coverage


Dental onlays are different from inlays, even though they’re typically grouped together as a similar treatment. The difference in onlays is that they cover a larger tooth surface rather than go inside of the tooth. But most importantly, onlays also help to recreate the cusps or pointed, raised areas on the chewing surfaces of your back teeth (inlays do not.) An onlay might cover a large area of the tooth, similar to a crown, which is why the “three-quarter crown” term is sometimes used to describe how these restorations work. Onlays are beneficial in that they prevent the need of cutting down healthy, intact tooth enamel to place a crown over the tooth. Instead, our Long Island dentists can preserve as much of the remaining enamel as possible.


Are Inlays or Onlays Right for Me?


Sachem Dental Group is one of the few Long Island dental offices to provide onlays and inlays. Most Suffolk County dentists do not offer three-quarter crowns, preferring to use full crowns instead. But as a multi-specialty general dentistry clinic, our team of providers is able to facilitate a wider range of quality services that might not otherwise be available in other settings.


Smile healthier with a dental inlay or onlay. Find out if these indirect fillings or three-quarter crowns are right for your smile. Call Sachem Dental Group today to reserve an appointment with one of our experienced dentists.