Dental Inlays vs Fillings: What’s the Difference?

Of course, taking care of our teeth is essential for maintaining good oral health. But while brushing and flossing regularly can help, sometimes that means getting dental work done – often whether we’d like to or not! So, if you’ve been considering tooth restoration options, then two common procedures you may have come across are dental inlays and fillings. But what’s the difference between dental inlays vs fillings? And is one better for your particular situation than the other?

In this blog post, we will explore the differences between dental inlays vs fillings, helping you make a more informed decision about which option is best for you.

What’s a Filling?

You probably already know a thing or two about this one. A filling is a common dental procedure used to restore teeth damaged by decay. 

The process involves removing the decayed portion of the tooth and filling it with either amalgam or composite resin material. The filling helps restore the shape and function of your tooth while also preventing further decay.

What’s a Dental Inlay?

A dental inlay, on the other hand, is a type of restoration that is typically used when a cavity or damage to the tooth is too large for a traditional filling. But at the same time, not significant enough to require a crown. 

An inlay typically consists of porcelain or composite resin material that is custom-made to fit into the cavity or damage on the tooth. The inlay is then cemented onto the tooth, creating a natural-looking finish that blends seamlessly with your existing teeth.

Differences Between Dental Inlays vs Fillings

Now that we understand the terms,  let’s take a closer look at their differences:

Material Used

One key difference between dental inlays vs fillings is the material used. While fillings can be made from either amalgam or composite resin materials, inlays are typically made only from porcelain or composite resin material.


Another difference lies in their size. Fillings are generally used for smaller cavities, while inlays are reserved for larger cavities or damage to teeth.


Because they use stronger materials and provide better coverage, dental inlays tend to be more durable than fillings. They are less likely to chip or crack, and can last anywhere between 5 and 30 years with proper care.


Dental inlays are typically more expensive than fillings due to the higher-quality materials used and a custom-made design. However, they may end up being a better long-term investment, as they are more durable and require less maintenance over time.

Procedure Time

The process for getting an inlay is longer and more involved than that of getting a filling. While a filling can usually be completed in one visit, an inlay may require two or more visits to complete.

The Bottom Line

Whether you go for a dental inlay or filling depends on several factors, from the size of the cavity to the general health of your teeth. Ultimately, it’s important to discuss your options with your dentist so that you can make an informed decision about which option is best for you. 

Dental work can be daunting but by understanding the differences between dental inlays vs fillings, you’ll be well on your way to making a choice that will benefit your oral health in the long run. Good luck!

Need a hand deciding between a dental inlay and filling? If so, we’d be happy to help! Click here to get in touch with Shelburne Village Dental, and book your appointment today.

Our patients will always be our first priority. We are devoted to creating an exceptional experience with every patient that walks into our office.

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