When Does A Tooth Need An Inlay Or Onlay?

Have you ever heard of partial crowns? These refer to restorations that address more specific areas of the tooth. We can use them to address a number of cosmetic and restorative concerns. When does a tooth need an inlay or onlay instead of a traditional dental crown?

How Do They Differ From Crowns?

A dental crown covers the entire visible portion of a tooth and is used to address infection, abscesses, or major chips and fractures in a tooth. We can also anchor a dental bridge firmly in place or even restore a single tooth dental implant. However, inlays and onlays are not designed to address major issues with the health and structure of a tooth. Instead, they target smaller areas that may be too much for a filling to address, but not enough to warrant a full dental crown.

Inlays and Onlays

The inlay fits in between the cusps of the top of the teeth. The onlays fit over the cusps on top of the teeth. Both options are made using ceramic, a lifelike material that can be shaded to blend with the rest of the tooth structure. The material is also long lasting, stain-resistant, and can ensure your restoration doesn’t stand out. Each one will be custom-made based on detailed impression we’ve gathered of the tooth to ensure a proper fit and quality restoration.

When Do We Need One?

You may need one if you develop a cavity, or if your tooth suffers minor damage. Signs you should see the dentist include sustaining an injury to the mouth (to ensure you haven’t damaged a tooth) and experiencing persistent tooth sensitivity or toothaches. If you have any questions about inlays or onlays, or about our custom-made dental crowns, then contact our team today. We want to ensure you continue to enjoy a healthy and comfortable smile for years to come.


We can restore damaged or decayed teeth with full or partial restorations. To schedule a visit with Dr. Barbour, contact Barbour Dental in Kahoka, MO, today at 660-727-4746 (GRIN).