Differences between Inlays, Onlays, and Dental Fillings

When we think of repairing a decayed tooth or a cavity, a dental filling always comes to mind. After all, they’ve been the go-to solution for cavities for many decades. These days, if you’ve got a damaged or decayed tooth, a filling isn’t your only option. Dental restoration gives you options. Inlays and onlays are good alternatives to fillings, but dental fillings are naturally still available. Made from porcelain, resin or gold, inlays, and onlays are neither caps nor crowns, but just what are they, and what are the differences between inlays, onlays, and dental fillings?


Inlays fill cavities and replace more of the tooth’s interior to give the tooth high resistance to fracturing. In the past, it wasn’t uncommon for a tooth repaired with a large filling to shatter to pieces, leaving only a fragment of a tooth attached to the filling. By reinforcing the tooth from the inside, inlays prevent fractures.


Like inlays, onlays fill a cavity that’s too large for traditional fillings. They replace a portion of the tooth that’s weakened or damaged and replace a tooth cusp, the raised portion of the tooth. They’re not crowns, as they don’t sit on top of the tooth’s entire surface. Instead, they replace part of the tooth and a cusp. They’re made from one single piece of replacement material.


With fillings, dentists drill out the decayed matter in the tooth, then fill the cavity with white (composite) or silver (amalgam) material. Fillings work best when the area of decay is small and hasn’t weakened the tooth structure significantly.

How are inlays and onlays made?

Inlays and onlays are made in a dental lab. It takes two visits to your dentist to have an inlay or onlay fitted. Your dentist will take measurements to determine the size and measurements of the inlay or online.

Advantages of Inlays and Onlays

  • Tooth strength. They give the tooth long life while reinforcing it against fractures and cracks.
  • Outstanding fit. Inlays and onlays are shaped to fit and will not shift, expand, or contract.
  • Complete sealing. Large dental fillings can contract over time, allowing decay-causing bacteria to enter the tooth’s recesses and interior. Inlays and onlays eliminate this problem completely.
  • Appearance. Dentists tint inlays and onlays to match your natural tooth coloration.

If you’re looking for a dentist in Houston, Texas, visit us at Texas Dental Center.

When Clear Aligners Aren’t The Right Option

For many years, when people thought of orthodontic treatment, the first thing to come to mind was “metal mouth”. However, in recent years, Invisalign and other clear braces have become an extremely popular orthodontic treatment option. While clear aligners have many benefits, they aren’t actually a perfect treatment for every single patient.

At Texas Dental Center, we are proud to offer clear aligners in Houston along with traditional orthodontic options, ensuring the patients of all kinds can receive the orthodontic care they deserve. Wondering when our Houston clear aligners might not be the best option?

  • Drastic Tooth Movement
    When it comes to severely malpositioned teeth or jaws, clear aligners may not be the best option. Fixed orthodontic appliances such as traditional metal braces offer much better tooth movement and can be used for most any tooth movement.
  • Moving Molars
    Although rare, moving molars can actually be quite difficult due to the fact their roots are much stronger. We recommend fixed orthodontic appliances when molar movement is required as the required time using clear aligners would not be worth it.
  • Forgetful Patients
    Do you often misplace things or forget them? Clear aligners can actually be removed in order to allow patients to properly eat, drink and even clean their smile. Due to the fact, clear aligners can be removed, many patients misplace them, resulting in additional aligners having to be created. Other patients simply forget to change their aligners at all, resulting in increased treatment time and less effective treatment.
  • Quick Treatment
    Interested in achieving your dream smile quickly? Clear aligners aren’t capable of moving teeth quite as quickly as fixed orthodontic appliances such as traditional metal braces. If you want your orthodontic treatment to be completed quickly, we recommend opting for an alternative orthodontic treatment option.

Visit Our Orthodontist in Houston, TX Today

Not sure if clear aligners or traditional orthodontic treatment is right for you? Contact Texas Dental Center today, we’d be more than happy to schedule your consultation so that we can determine if clear aligners are the right treatment option for improving the appearance, health and function of your smile.

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