Dental Crowns vs. Inlays and Onlays

Determining the Best Dental Restoration for Your Smile

Dental crowns and inlays and onlays are dental treatments used to restore and repair teeth. Each option has unique characteristics and uses. Understanding the differences between dental crowns and alternative treatments can help individuals make informed decisions regarding their oral health.

Explore the key differences between these treatments with Dr. Dawson at Northwind Dental.

inlay, onlay, dental crown on teeth

Dental Crowns vs. Inlays and Onlays


Dental crowns cover and protect damaged teeth that are severely decayed, cracked, or have undergone root canal treatment. Inlays and onlays repair teeth with moderate to severe decay or damage beyond what a filling can adequately restore.


Dental crowns are typically made from various materials, such as porcelain, metal alloys, or both. Porcelain crowns are favored for their natural appearance, while metal crowns are known for their durability.

Inlays and onlays are usually crafted from dental materials such as porcelain, composite resin, or gold. The choice of material depends on factors like the location of the damage, the size of the restoration needed, and patient preference.

Tooth Preparation

For dental crowns, a significant portion of the tooth’s outer structure needs to be removed to accommodate the crown. The tooth is shaped by the dentist to create space for the crown to fit securely.

In contrast, inlays and onlays require less tooth preparation than dental crowns. Only the decayed or damaged portion of the tooth is removed, and the remaining healthy tooth structure is retained as much as possible.

Strength and Durability

Dental crowns provide excellent strength and durability, offering enhanced protection for weak or damaged teeth. They can withstand significant biting forces and help prevent further breakdown or fracture.

Inlays and onlays also offer strength and durability, although they may not provide the same level of protection as dental crowns. They’re suitable for restoring teeth with moderate to severe damage and can withstand chewing forces.

Deciding Which Treatment is Best for You

When determining whether a dental crown, inlay, or onlay is the most suitable treatment option, several factors should be considered:

  • The extent of tooth damage
  • Size and location of the restoration needed
  • Aesthetic preferences
  • Longevity expectations
  • Oral hygiene habits
    Recommendation of your dentist

Consult a dental professional like Dr. Dawson in Wasilla, who can thoroughly assess your oral health and provide personalized recommendations based on your needs.

woman looking at her new smile in a handheld mirror

Frequently Asked Questions

Are inlays and onlays suitable for all teeth?
Are inlays and onlays cheaper than crowns?
Can inlays and onlays fall off?
Are inlays and onlays as strong as dental crowns?
Are inlays and onlays suitable for all teeth?

Inlays and onlays are typically used to restore molars and premolars with moderate to severe decay or damage. They’re not recommended for front teeth or teeth with extensive structural loss, however.

Are inlays and onlays cheaper than crowns?

In general, inlays and onlays tend to be less expensive than dental crowns. The cost can vary depending on factors such as the material used, the size of the restoration, and the dentist’s fees.

Can inlays and onlays fall off?

Inlays and onlays are securely bonded to the tooth, providing a stable and long-lasting restoration. However, in rare cases, they may become dislodged or come off. If this happens,  contact your dentist to have it reattached.

Are inlays and onlays as strong as dental crowns?

While inlays and onlays are durable restorations, dental crowns are generally considered stronger and better protect weakened or damaged teeth. Crowns are often recommended for teeth with more extensive damage or when additional support is needed.

Take the First Step Toward a Healthier Smile

When it comes to dental restorations, the choice between dental crowns and inlays/onlays depends on various factors. Consult with a dental professional like Dr. Dawson who can assess your specific oral health needs and provide personalized recommendations. Call our Wasilla dental office today at (907) 373-2440 to schedule your consultation.

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