Dental inlays and crowns can both be used to repair teeth damaged by caries (or cavities). A crown
is like a 'cap' for the damaged tooth. In order to place a crown, a dentist
will (after numbing your mouth first!) shave away the outer part of the tooth in question. Then, a mold will be created of not only the tooth being crowned but also the neighboring teeth. A temporary crown will be placed over the shaved tooth to protect it, and then the dentist will use the impression taken of the tooth itself and surrounding teeth to design a permanent cap to fit over the tooth and be cemented permanently in place. You will need to wear the temporary crown for the approximately 2 weeks it takes to make the new crown.
On the other hand, an inlay is a filling
that replaces the damaged part of a tooth that is removed but it does not cover the entire tooth. An inlay is a specific type of filling that is most helpful when the part of the tooth that needs to be repaired is so large that a traditional filling might lead to problems with the integrity of the remaining part of the tooth or during chewing. Please talk to your dentist, who can give you the best information about whether or not your dental issues will requires crowns or inlays.