Real Dentistry Explain the Difference Between Dental Crowns and Inlays/Onlays

Tuesday 16 April 2019, 4:43PM
By Beckie Wright

The key comparison between dental crowns and inlays/onlays is the amount and part of the tooth that they cover. An inlay will incorporate the pits and fissures of a tooth, mainly encompassing the chewing surface between the cusps, whereas an onlay will involve one or more cusps being covered. If all cusps and the entire surface of the tooth is covered this is then known as a crown


Dental crowns are a way of restoring a badly damaged tooth, protecting the structure of it by providing full coverage of the tooth. Dental crowns are made from strong materials – ceramic, zirconia or gold, that are designed to last many years. They also have the advantage of looking and feeling like a natural tooth.


A dental crown may be needed in the following situations:

To protect a weak tooth (for instance, from decay) from breaking or to hold together parts of a cracked tooth

To restore an already broken tooth or a tooth that has been severely worn down

To cover and support a tooth with a large filling when there isn't a lot of tooth left

To hold a dental bridge in place

To cover misshapened or severely discolored teeth

To cover a dental implant

To make a cosmetic modification


In dentistry, inlays and onlays are a form of indirect restoration. This means they are made outside of the mouth as a single, solid piece, that fits the specific size and shape of the cavity. The restoration is then cemented in place in the mouth. This is an alternative to a direct restoration, made out of  composite, amalgam or glass ionomer, that is built up within the mouth.


Inlays and onlays are used in molars or premolars, when the tooth has experienced too much damage to support a basic filling, but not so much damage that a crown is necessary.


Call one of the friendly team at Real Dentistry today and make an appointment, and if you have any questions, please discuss them with your dentist during your initial consultation, and for more information on tooth crown   please go to .