The Difference Between Fillings, Inlays, and Onlays

Dental onlay procedure in Arlington Heights ILOn Monday, we looked at dental crowns, which can be used to address damage and advanced tooth decay. But what if you have a cavity or minor damage that doesn’t require an entire crown to address? Can you have your tooth restored while preserving much of the natural tooth structure? We actually do offer other restorative options to address more minor concerns. What’s the difference between our fillings and our inlays and onlays?

The Dangers of Tooth Decay

When a tooth is damaged or in poor health, a cavity can form. Tooth decay can lead to discomfort, such as tooth sensitivity and toothaches. However, unless treated in a timely manner, the issue can grow worse until a dental infection forms. At this point, you will need a root canal or in extreme cases, tooth extraction, to prevent the spread of infection to surrounding teeth. However, if you see us at the first signs of discomfort, we can often address the problem with a simple restoration.

Dental Fillings

A filling is made from metal-free composite resin, which we can actually shade to match your tooth. We remove the decay and thoroughly clean the teeth. We then gently etch the tooth’s surface before applying the resin, which cures under a light. The final step is polishing the tooth for a more natural appearance. In one visit, you can enjoy a newly repaired tooth with a lifelike appearance.

Inlays and Onlays

Also known as partial crowns, inlays and onlays address specific areas of the tooth using smaller ceramic restorations. The inlays fit between the cusps of the top of the tooth, while the onlays fit over the cusps themselves. Using CEREC technology, we can actually create and place these restorations in one sitting.


Dr. Brent Engelberg and his highly-skilled team proudly serve patients and their families from Arlington Heights, IL, and all surrounding communities, including; Northbrook, Deerfield, Highland Park, Wilmette, Winnetka, Glencoe, Vernon Hills, Lincolnshire, Libertyville, Skokie, Evanston, Palatine, Schaumburg, Elk Grove Village, Rolling Meadows, and the Northern and Northwest Chicago Suburbs. To learn more, schedule a consultation online, or call our office today at (847) 230-9703.