Understanding Dental Inlays: How They Differ from Fillings and Crowns

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Dental health is a critical aspect of overall well-being, and when it comes to restoring damaged or decayed teeth, various options are available. Dental inlays, fillings, and crowns are among the common restorative dentistry choices, each serving unique purposes. 

Our team at Texas Choice Dental in Humble, TX, is here to help you make the best decision for your oral health. Call us today to schedule your initial consultation!

Dental Inlays Defined

Dental inlays repair teeth that have mild to moderate damage or decay. They are crafted from materials like porcelain, composite resin, or gold, and are custom-made to fit the specific shape and size of the cavity. Unlike fillings, which are applied directly into the cavity and molded in the mouth, inlays are fabricated outside the mouth and then bonded into place.

The Inlay Process

The process of getting a dental inlay involves a few key steps. First, the dentist will remove the decayed or damaged portion of the tooth, leaving a clean, prepared space. Unlike fillings, inlays require precision in shaping the tooth as they fit into the prepared area with utmost accuracy.

After preparing the tooth, an impression is taken to create a mold of the tooth structure. This mold is then sent to a dental lab where the inlay is custom-crafted to perfectly match the contours of the prepared cavity. During this period, a temporary filling may be placed to protect the tooth.

Once the inlay is ready, the patient returns for its placement. The dentist carefully bonds the inlay into the prepared cavity using dental cement. This ensures a secure fit and restores the tooth’s functionality and appearance.

Dental Fillings: A Quick Overview

Dental fillings are a well-known and widely-used method of treating cavities. They are typically made of materials like amalgam (a mix of metals) or composite resin (tooth-colored filling). Unlike inlays, fillings are directly applied to the cavity and shaped within the mouth. While effective for small to moderately-sized cavities, they may not be the best solution for larger or more complex cases.

Inlays vs. Fillings: Key Differences

One primary distinction between dental inlays and fillings lies in the extent of tooth damage they can effectively address. Inlays are designed for larger cavities or teeth with more substantial damage. Their custom fabrication ensures a precise fit, providing strength and durability.

In contrast, dental fillings are suitable for smaller cavities and less severe damage. The filling material is directly applied and shaped by the dentist during the procedure. While effective, fillings may not provide the same level of structural support as inlays for more extensive tooth damage.

Dental Crowns: When Extensive Restoration is Needed

Dental crowns, like inlays, are used for restoring teeth with significant damage or decay. However, crowns differ in that they encapsulate the entire visible portion of the tooth above the gum line. This provides comprehensive coverage and support for the entire tooth.

The process of getting a dental crown involves reshaping the tooth to create space for the crown. An impression is then taken, and the crown is fabricated in a dental laboratory. While waiting for the permanent crown, a temporary crown may be placed to protect the prepared tooth.

Dental crowns are a suitable option when a tooth has extensive damage, has undergone root canal therapy, or requires reinforcement after a large filling. While effective, the preparation for crowns involves more removal of healthy tooth structure compared to inlays.

Choosing the Right Restoration

The choice between dental inlays, fillings, and crowns depends on the extent of tooth damage, the location of the affected tooth, and the patient’s individual needs. Inlays are an excellent option for preserving healthy tooth structure while providing reliable support for moderate-sized cavities. Fillings are practical for smaller cavities, while crowns offer comprehensive coverage for extensively damaged teeth.

It’s crucial to consult with a dentist to determine the most suitable restoration for your specific case. They will consider factors such as the size of the cavity, the tooth’s location, and your oral health goals to guide you in making an informed decision.

Dental Inlays in Humble, TX

While fillings are suitable for smaller cavities, inlays offer a precise and custom-fit solution for moderate damage. Dental crowns provide extensive coverage for more severe cases. Whatever the choice, our team’s professional advice can help ensure the restoration’s success and contribute to maintaining a healthy, functional smile for years to come.

Give us a call today at (281) 972-8000 to schedule your appointment!


19725 Highway 59 N.
Humble, TX, 77338


(281) 972-8000


Monday: Closed
Tuesday: 8:00 AM - 3:00 PM
Wednesday: 10:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Thursday: 10:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Friday: 10:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Saturday: 9:00 AM - 2:00 PM
Sunday: Closed

Schedule an Appointment with Texas Choice Dental, Your Local Dentist in Humble, TX.