Smile Makeover on a Budget | Dental Inlays & Onlays Cost Guide in Australia

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July 24, 2023

dental inlay and onlay

Your smile is one of the first few facial attributes that make you attractive. The arrangement of your teeth, along with how well it complements your facial features, can make a huge difference in how appealing your smile is. You may have previously heard of taxing procedures to design your smile, such as braces, Invisalign or veneers, but what if there are less invasive and less expensive procedures available? Enter Dental Inlays and Onlays.

Whether it comes to restoring damaged or decayed teeth or redesigning the shape of a tooth, dental inlays and onlays are popular choices. This is because they are known for their durability and natural appearance. Dental inlays and onlays, also called indirect fillings, are custom-made to fit individual teeth and provide long-lasting solutions. In this article, we will explore the world of dental inlays and onlays, their various types, benefits, and the associated costs in Australia for getting dental inlays and onlays.

The primary factor in deciding on any dental procedure is the cost associated with it. The cost of dental onlays and inlays in Australia can vary depending on multiple factors, including the complexity of the restoration and the dental material used. In general, the average cost of a single inlay or onlay can range from $500 upwards

Porcelain inlays and onlays tend to be bit more expensive than composite resin options due to their superior aesthetics and durability. It is important to consult with a dentist for a personalised cost estimate based on your specific dental needs and requirements.

Understanding Dental Inlays and Onlays

Dental onlays and inlays are restorative dental procedures that are used to repair teeth that have suffered moderate to severe decay or damage. Unlike traditional fillings, which are placed directly into the tooth during a dental visit, inlays and onlays are fabricated in a laboratory and then bonded to the tooth surface. They are typically made from tooth-coloured materials such as porcelain and ensure a seamless blend with the natural teeth.

Types of Inlays and Onlays

Dental inlays and onlays can be categorised into two main types: porcelain inlays/onlays and composite inlays/onlays.

  • Porcelain Inlays/Onlays: Dental inlays types include porcelain inlays. Porcelain inlays and onlays are highly durable and offer excellent aesthetics. They are custom-made in dental laboratories to match the shape, size, and colour of the natural teeth. Porcelain inlays/onlays are known for their ability to resist staining and provide a strong and long-lasting solution for tooth restoration.
  • Composite Inlays/Onlays: Composite inlays and onlays are made from a tooth-coloured composite resin material. They are placed directly onto the tooth, allowing for a more conservative approach compared to porcelain inlays/onlays. While composite inlays/onlays are cost-effective and can be completed in a single dental visit, they may not be as durable as porcelain options especially for larger restorations

Benefits of Dental Inlays and Onlays

Dental inlays and onlays benefits include tooth preservation, dental aesthetics and durability, making them a preferred choice for restorative dentistry:

  • Tooth Preservation: Inlays and onlays require minimal removal of the natural tooth structure compared to dental crowns. This preservation of healthy tooth structure promotes better oral health and maintains the strength of the tooth.
  • Aesthetics: Inlays and onlays are designed to match the colour and appearance of natural teeth, ensuring a seamless blend. This feature makes them an excellent choice for patients concerned about maintaining a natural-looking smile.
  • Durability: Porcelain inlays/onlays are known for their strength and longevity. They provide a durable solution, with a lifespan of 10-30 years, depending on oral hygiene practices and individual habits.
  • Custom-Made Restorations: Inlays and onlays are custom-made to fit each patient’s specific tooth shape and size. This personalised approach ensures a precise and comfortable fit.

Why Porcelain Inlays/Onlays?

Porcelain inlays and onlays offer numerous advantages over other materials:

  • Aesthetic Appeal: Porcelain closely mimics the natural tooth colour, allowing for a seamless blend with the surrounding teeth. This makes porcelain inlays/onlays an ideal choice for those seeking a discreet restoration.
  • Stain Resistance: Porcelain is highly resistant to staining, helping the restoration maintain its appearance over time. This quality is particularly beneficial for patients who consume staining substances such as coffee, tea, or red wine.
  • Longevity: Porcelain inlays/onlays are known for their durability and longevity. With proper care and maintenance, they can last for many years, making them a cost-effective solution in the long run.
  • Biocompatibility: Porcelain is a biocompatible material, meaning it is well-tolerated by the body and unlikely to cause adverse reactions or allergies.

What are the differences between Inlays, Onlays, and Fillings?

Inlays, onlays, and fillings are all dental restorations used to treat tooth decay or damage, but they differ in their scope and application:

  • Dental Fillings: Dental fillings are the most common and straightforward method of restoring teeth that have cavities or minor damage. They entail clearing out the decayed or damaged portion of the tooth and filling the space with a suitable material, such as amalgam or composite resin. Fillings are typically used for smaller areas of decay and are placed directly into the tooth during a dental visit.
  • Inlays: Inlays are larger restorations that are used when the damage or decay extends beyond what a dental filling can effectively address. They are custom-made dental cavity fillings that are created in a dental laboratory. Dental inlay materials are fabricated to fit precisely within the prepared cavity and are bonded to the tooth surface. They provide a strong and durable solution and are often made from materials such as porcelain or composite resin.
  • Onlays: Onlays are similar to inlays but provide a more extensive restoration. They are used when the damage or decay extends to the cusps or biting surfaces of the tooth. Onlays covers a larger portion of the tooth and is designed to restore the tooth’s shape, strength, and functionality. Like inlays, onlays are custom-made dental restorations created in a dental laboratory.

While dental fillings are suitable for smaller areas of decay, inlays and onlays are used for more significant restorations that require a custom-made approach to fit the tooth precisely. Dental Inlays procedures are done when the damage is contained within the tooth’s cusps, while onlays covers a larger portion of the tooth, including the cusps. So understanding the different applications of dental inlays vs dental fillings is crucial. If you are considering getting dental inlays or onlays or are confused amongst these, book a consultation with Your Healthy Smile.


Q1. What are inlays and onlays in dentistry?

Inlays and onlays are restorative dental treatments used to repair teeth that have moderate to severe decay or damage. They are custom-made restorations that are created outside the mouth and then bonded to the tooth surface, providing a durable and aesthetically pleasing solution.

Q2. Is an inlay better than fillings?

Dental Inlays benefits in many ways when compared to traditional fillings. They provide a more conservative approach, preserving more of the natural tooth structure. Inlays are custom-made to fit the tooth precisely, offering better aesthetics and durability compared to fillings. However, the choice between an inlay and a filling depends on the extent of the damage or decay and the dentist’s recommendation.

Q3. How long does an inlay and onlay last?

The lifespan of an inlay or onlay depends on various factors, including oral hygiene practices, eating habits, and individual dental health. On average, porcelain inlays/onlays can last between 10 and 30 years, while composite inlays/onlays have a shorter lifespan. Regular dental check-ups and proper oral care can help prolong the longevity of these restorations.

Q4. Which is better, an inlay or an onlay?

The choice between an inlay and an onlay depends on the extent of tooth damage or decay. Inlays are used when the restoration is contained within the cusps of the tooth, while onlays covers a larger portion, including the cusps. Your dentist will evaluate your specific case and recommend the most suitable option to restore your tooth effectively.

Dental inlays and onlays provide a conservative and durable solution for tooth restoration. They offer several benefits, including tooth preservation, aesthetics, and longevity. Porcelain inlays/onlays, in particular, offer excellent aesthetics and resistance to staining. Also dental inlays cost compared to dental onlays costs plays a crucial role in choosing over your options.

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