Our Dental Blog

Inlay vs. Onlay: What’s the difference?

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5-star reviews from satisfied customers

2 minutes read

Teeth that have tooth decay have multiple options to restore them back to health.  Depending on the diagnosis of the tooth, extent of decay/fracture and remaining tooth support, it is possible our dentists may recommend an inlay or onlay.


Both inlays and onlays are utilized to restore a decayed or broken tooth as it is important to conserve as much tooth structure as possible. Additionally, inlays and onlays can strengthen and protect the health of the tooth. Luckily, this cosmetic dentistry office near Northbrook offers both. However, how can we differentiate the two?



An inlay is typically used if you have a cavity that is too large for a traditional filling. If a dental filling isn’t used, an inlay is another option. The inlay is a single, solid piece that fits the specific shape and size of the cavity. First, the dentist removes the tooth decay and then an impression is taken of the tooth for the fabrication of the inlay. Normally, inlays are made from porcelain—similar to veneers—and are more durable than a regular tooth filling due to the material strength.



An onlay is both similar to an inlay and a crown—it’s somewhere in between. The onlay typically covers a cusp or the chewing surface of the tooth. It is also fabricated as a single and solid piece.  An onlay’s design is to preserve tooth structure when compared to a traditional crown as the advent of adhesives allow less aggressive preparation of the tooth.


As a cosmetic dentistry office serving Northbrook, Chicago Beautiful Smiles offers cosmetic dentistry serving Northbrook and can help you determine which type of restoration would be best suited for your needs.

Contact us today for more information.

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Real Patient Reviews

Real Patient Reviews

I have been going to this practice for several years now. I seemingly never have to wait when I arrive at the office and they are all very professional. Dr. Hartlieb and Dr. Ching have been terrific. In addition to doing great dental work, each has a great rapport with their patients. All of their assistants have been top notch as well.

- Neil H.

I recently met with Dr. Ching to have some dental work done, and had an exceptional experience at this office! I usually hate going to the dentist, but this experience was different–this office is hands-down, THE nicest dental facilitiy I have ever seen.

- Shaun F.

This dental office is something I haven’t seen before. I had many past dental experiences at other dental offices (unfortunately not good) and finally I found Chicago Beautiful Smiles. Dr. Hartlieb had helped me restore my teeth to a beautiful smile.

- Natasa R.

I am a loyal patient for over (yikes!) 20 years because I appreciate the time, skill and patience of the entire team. As proof of my gratitude, I live in the city and reverse commute every six months for my appointment.

- Dennis H.

Dr. Hartlieb is by far the best dentist I have ever been to. He has transformed my smile into something of beauty. In fact, many people comment on how beautiful my teeth are who do not even know that I have had major dental work performed. I used to never want to smile that large before, but now I smile as big as possible when photographed.

- Fran L.

I always have a great experience when I go to Chicago Beautiful Smiles. The staff is amazing and Dr. Hartlieb and Dr. Ching are extremely knowledgeable and friendly. The facility is incredible and I feel like I’m being treated with the best technology in the dental industry. Go to Chicago Beautiful Smiles for a consultation and I guarantee you will go back time and time again. It does not get any better in the Chicago area.

- Antonio S.

I had a great experience with Dr. Ching – very professional and thorough in his craft. I had been seeing my previous dentist for the past 15 years; however, I am ready to make the permanent switch to Chicago Beautiful Smiles. Dr. Ching is great at explaining the procedures he was performing and made my visit comfortable.

- Brian M.

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Glenview, IL 60026

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