Inlays, onlays, and veneers are all very similar dental treatments that involve placing a protective layer on the surface of your teeth. These serve to provide your thin tooth enamel an extra layer of protection against decay, mask stains or flaws in your teeth, reinforce a weakened tooth against breakage, or even correct your bite.
The difference between these three treatments are in the degree of coverage they offer. An inlay lies entirely within the cusp of the chewing surface of your tooth, where a lot of cavities start. You might be given in inlay if you are at risk of developing a cavity, but have not yet experienced enough decay to call for a filling.
An onlay, also known as a “partial crown”, goes beyond the area covered by an inlay. These are necessary when the surface of the tooth has become damaged, but not to a point where a full crown is needed.
A veneer is sometimes known as a porcelain veneer or a porcelain laminate. These wafer-thin structures are designed to coat the front surface of your teeth. Many people like to get veneers as a cosmetic treatment, giving them a stunningly white and even smile that is resistant to stains.