What are dental inlays?

A dental inlay is an indirect restoration that is fitted to fill a cavity and cemented into place.
Dental inlays and onlays are used to assist in tooth restoration by acting as tooth-colored fillings to replace old metal amalgam fillings. 
Inlays and onlays are typically made from porcelain, composite resin, and sometimes even from gold. 
An inlay is a special kind of filling that may be used to repair the chewing surfaces of a back tooth like a molar, premolar or bicuspid. It fits into the contours of the tooth, between the cusps (points) of the biting surface. The inlay restores the space that remains after the dentist removes the decay or old filling.

An onlay is like an inlay, but it is bigger and covers some or all chewing surfaces of the tooth. It may provide more coverage for a tooth that has lost much of its biting surface when decay damages the surface between teeth. Your dentist may recommend an onlay based on how damaged the tooth is.
Todd A. Welch, DMD
An inlay is a filling that is made in a dental laboratory. The dentist will remove the cavity and prepare the tooth accordingly. A dental impression will be made and the case will be sent to a dental lab. The dentist will then place the inlay into the previously prepared inlay preparation.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.