If you have ever experienced tooth decay or a damaged tooth, you may have received an inlay or onlay to correct the damage. Bridging the gap between what a filling will repair and what a crown can restore, inlays and onlays other viable options for some patients. The primary thing that sets inlays and onlays apart from fillings is that they are fabricated as a single, solid piece. Compared to crowns, inlays and onlays are considered less extensive than a restoration of the entire upper tooth structure.

Dental Filling vs. Inlay

With both dental fillings and inlays, any decay or damage is removed first and the tooth is cleaned. However, dental fillings are typically used to fill in smaller areas of a tooth, whereas inlays can cover a more damaged area. Both are used for filling the interior portion of a tooth, as opposed to onlays and crowns, which are designed to cover exterior areas of the tooth.

Unfortunately, most insurance companies do not cover the cost of inlays, so they are not seen as frequently as fillings. Some patients are willing to pay the additional cost, but in many cases, fillings are still a viable option that may save some money. It’s always best to discuss any questions or concerns you have about your options and their cost with Dr. Strickland. We will always provide you with all your options and cover the pros and cons, so you leave feeling confident in your choice.

Onlay vs. Crown

Onlays are more extensive than inlays, but not quite as comprehensive as a crown. While a crown replaces the entire chewing surface as well as any structure above the gum line, an onlay only covers a cusp of the tooth. Like inlays, onlays are crafted as a single piece customized to the shape of your tooth and then cemented in place. Still, instead of filling the interior part of the tooth, they are designed to cover moderate decay or damage on the outside of the tooth.

Onlays cost slightly less than crowns and are usually a better option, if possible since they require less tooth to be removed. As with inlays, insurance companies do not cover them as often as they cover the cost of crowns. So in some cases where an onlay would suffice, a crown is placed to save the patient money. While your care is always our number one priority, we also understand that cost is a factor for most patients. We strive to provide you with all your options so you can make an educated decision about how you’d like to proceed with your care.

If you are experiencing tooth pain or have cosmetic damage to your tooth, ask Dr. Strickland about whether an inlay or onlay would be a good option for you!