Dental Restoration: Demystifying Crowns vs. Veneers vs. Inlays vs. Onlays

When you have tooth damage or decay, you get a filling, right? Kind of. The word “filling” is widely used but often misinterpreted. 

Usually, fillings benefit small damage areas, but other treatments are better suited when the damage or decay is more extensive. This is why it is essential to choose a dentist who will talk with you about your options to ensure you clearly understand what can be done. Understanding the difference between the treatments and why one is more appropriate than another is critical to making sound dental decisions. 


If a dental filling does not provide successful restoration, a crown may be recommended. A crown is most commonly used by a dentist to repair a tooth that has significant damage or decay or to strengthen a tooth that is fractured or weak. Made of either gold, porcelain, or porcelain fused to metal, a crown is a custom-made cap placed over the entire tooth. Most people choose to have porcelain crowns as they are designed to match the tooth’s natural color. We are pleased to offer same-day crowns, which is much more convenient than traditional crowns, which requires multiple visits as the crowns are fabricated at a dental lab. 

Dental Inlay

When damage or decay is restricted to the chewing surface area but is too large for a composite filling, dental inlays are used. In our office, we first take a precise digital impression of the tooth. We then use CEREC technology to create a porcelain inlay the SAME DAY as your appointment. Traditional treatments require the inlay to be made in an outside lab, requiring multiple appointments. But not at Mill Point Dental as CEREC allows us to restore your teeth in one visit! With proper care, dental inlays can last decades. 

Dental Onlay

Like dental inlays, dental onlays are used when the damage or decay is too large for a composite filling but too small for a crown. They work similarly to crowns but do not cover the entire surface of the tooth. Onlays are recommended when the damage extends to the tooth’s cusp and is virtually undetectable once placed in the mouth. Created in the same manner as our dental inlays, dental onlay restoration at Mill Point Dental is completed in one day and, like inlays, with proper care, can last decades. 


Thin shells made of porcelain or resin, dental veneers are bonded to the front of the tooth’s surface. While they function similarly to dental crowns, veneers only cover the front of the tooth and don’t provide the structural support of a crown, inlay, or onlay. A veneer is an excellent option for people who want to correct cosmetic flaws on the tooth’s surface and repair multiple tooth problems at once. For example, this can include people who want to treat a tooth that is stained, chipped, and crooked. We can create and restore teeth with veneers in just one visit using digital impressions and CEREC. With proper care, veneers can last a decade or longer. 

If you require dental restoration, you should not only know your options; you should also understand how much time the treatment will take to complete. Most dental offices offer indirect restoration for more extensive repairs over a series of appointments. Having all the facts will make you a happier patient. If you have questions, we are here to answer them. Give us a call to schedule an appointment with one of our Bend, Oregon dentists.