Inlays and Onlays Compared to Fillings

Patients have several options when it comes to restoring a tooth that has been damaged due to deep decay. Decay leaves an empty space, or cavity, in the teeth, which needs to be filled in. Inlays, onlays, and fillings can be used. Information about these options can help patients decide which is right for them and their teeth.


Inlays and onlays

Inlays and onlays are also called indirect fillings. This is because they are made in a lab and sent back to the office to be placed. Restorations that are used to fill spaces inside the tooth are called inlays, and for the cusp of the tooth, onlays.

Patients and our dentists in Agoura Hills often prefer indirect fillings due to the fact that they do not weaken the tooth structure, and in fact strengthen it. Teeth restored with inlays or onlays can sustain fifty to seventy-five percent more pressure than those that are not.



Unlike indirect fillings, regular fillings are created in the tooth. They can be made out of a variety of materials, including gold, silver, plastic, and porcelain. A large part of opting for a filling is how you want the restored tooth to look, as some of these materials are visible.


Common Types of Dental Fillings

Family lying on a carpet

According to the National Institutes of Health, tooth decay is the number one chronic disease in both children and adults. In fact, only twenty-two percent of patients in the U.S. have not had a cavity before the age of seventeen. For the other eighty-eight percent, a dental filling is needed to restore the strength of the tooth or teeth damaged by decay. Our Los Angeles cosmetic dentist offers several types of dental fillings to best suit every case.

Types of dental fillings

• Amalgam: This common type is made of silver, tin, copper, and mercury. It is typically used for fillings needed in teeth in the back of the mouth. Amalgam fillings are strong and typically less expensive than other options, but do not match the color of the teeth.
• Composite resin: A popular option for tooth restoration, composite resin fillings are made of plastic and fine glass particles. They can be completed in just one visit and will match the color of the teeth.
• Gold: Though not as frequently used as they once were, gold can be used for inlays, onlays, and crowns. They are known to last fifteen years or longer.
• Ceramic: Most commonly made of porcelain, ceramic can also be used for inlays, onlays, and crowns. They last upwards of seven years, but are more prone to breaks.

Our expert in dental fillings in Los Angeles can recommend a type of dental filling based on your specific case.