How Much Do Dental Inlays Cost?

Dentist examining a patient's bite.
Dentist examining a patient's bite. (Image: Keith Brofsky/Photodisc/Getty Images)

When your dentist suggests you need an inlay, it is likely due to a damaged tooth. Your tooth damage is not severe enough for a crown, and your dentist can treat it with an inlay. Some dentists choose to replace old fillings with inlays to save the tooth from further damage. Many factors influence the cost of a dental inlay, including materials and the size of the inlay.

What are Inlays?

Dentists often elect inlays to repair teeth whose damage is grater than what would be fixed by a filling, but not severe enough to warrant a crown. Like a crown, you must get an impression so the inlay will fit your tooth. A lab creates your custom inlay, and your dentist will fit and bond the inlay directly onto your tooth during a series of dental visits.

Cost Factors

Several factors affect the cost of dental inlays and, if you have dental insurance, your share of that cost. For instance, some insurers consider inlays part of basic restorative services, while others categorize them as major services. The plan may charge different co-insurance amounts based on this classification. Other cost factors include the type of inlay material, the number of inlay surfaces, which of your teeth need inlays and your location. Dental services may vary based on where you live, and larger inlays with more than one surface will likely cost more.

Average Cost

Most current research puts the cost of dental inlays in the range from $650 to $1,250 per inlay, with the average around $900. This also depends on the type of insurance plan. Dental HMO plans typically charge less for inlays because of the insurance arrangement with the dentist. To find the average cost of an inlay in your city, visit Braces Info, which calculates average costs based on data from U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the American Dental Association and the American Chamber of Commerce Research Association. You should also call your insurer and several dentists in your area to get estimates for inlays.

Inlay Materials

You can select from among several different materials for your inlays, including porcelain, ceramic, resin-based or other materials. The composition of your inlays will likely affect your inlays' cost. The tooth-colored inlays may be more expensive than gold or other metal materials, especially if used on molars. Dentists do not prefer or suggest one type of inlay over another, as the difference is purely aesthetic. Always check with your dental plan to make sure it covers all materials, and ascertain whether there is a cost difference between the different inlays.

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