What Is A Dental Inlay

by Jakob Larson  - September 16, 2023

You’ve probably heard of dental fillings, but have you ever wondered what a dental inlay is? Well, a dental inlay is a type of dental restoration that is used to repair a damaged or decayed tooth. It is basically a custom-made filling that is designed to fit into the grooves of the tooth, providing a seamless and natural-looking restoration. Dental inlays are commonly made from materials like porcelain or ceramic, which not only mimic the color and appearance of natural teeth but also offer durability and strength. So, if you’re looking for a solution to fix your tooth without compromising on aesthetics, a dental inlay might just be the answer you’re seeking.

What is a Dental Inlay

Definition of Dental Inlay

A dental inlay is a type of dental restoration that is used to repair and strengthen a tooth that has been damaged by decay or trauma. It is a custom-made restoration that is typically fabricated in a dental laboratory and then bonded to the tooth. Unlike a dental filling, which is placed directly into the cavity in the tooth, a dental inlay is made outside of the mouth and then fitted into the tooth.

Purpose of Dental Inlay

The purpose of a dental inlay is to restore the structural integrity of a damaged tooth and prevent further decay or damage. It is often used when a tooth has a cavity or a large area of decay that is too extensive for a dental filling, but not severe enough to require a dental crown. Dental inlays are also used to replace old or fractured fillings.

Materials Used for Dental Inlays

Dental inlays can be made from a variety of materials, including ceramics, gold, and composite resin. Ceramic inlays are the most popular choice among patients and dentists because they closely resemble the natural color and texture of the tooth, making them virtually indistinguishable from the surrounding teeth. However, gold inlays are still used in some cases, particularly in areas of the mouth where strength and durability are a greater concern. Composite resin inlays are also a viable option as they can be precisely matched to the color of the tooth.

Advantages of Dental Inlays

There are several advantages to choosing a dental inlay as a restorative treatment option. Firstly, dental inlays provide a more long-lasting solution compared to dental fillings, as they are custom-made and precision-fitted to the tooth. This ensures a stronger bond and reduces the risk of future decay or damage. Additionally, the aesthetics of dental inlays are highly desirable, especially when made from ceramic materials that blend seamlessly with natural teeth. Dental inlays also require less removal of healthy tooth structure compared to dental crowns, making them a conservative choice for restorative dentistry.

Disadvantages of Dental Inlays

While dental inlays offer many benefits, there are also some potential drawbacks to consider. One disadvantage is that the process of receiving a dental inlay requires multiple dental visits. This can be inconvenient for some patients who prefer a quicker treatment option. Additionally, the cost of dental inlays may be higher compared to dental fillings due to the lab fabrication and custom fitting involved. However, considering the durability and longevity of dental inlays, the investment can be well worth it in the long run.

Difference Between Dental Inlays and Dental Fillings

The main difference between dental inlays and dental fillings lies in the location and extent of the restoration. Dental fillings are placed directly into the cavity in the tooth, whereas dental inlays are fabricated outside of the mouth and then fitted into the prepared tooth. Dental inlays are used for larger cavities or areas of decay that cannot be effectively treated with a dental filling alone. They provide a more custom fit compared to fillings and offer greater strength and longevity.

Procedure to Place Dental Inlays

The procedure to place dental inlays typically takes place in two or more dental visits. During the initial visit, the dentist will prepare the tooth by removing any decay or old filling material. An impression of the prepared tooth will then be taken and sent to a dental laboratory, where the inlay will be fabricated. A temporary filling may be placed to protect the tooth while waiting for the permanent inlay. On the second visit, the temporary filling will be removed, and the custom-made dental inlay will be carefully placed and bonded to the tooth using dental cement.

Caring for Dental Inlays

Caring for dental inlays is similar to caring for natural teeth. Regular brushing and flossing, along with routine dental check-ups and cleanings, are essential for maintaining the health and longevity of the inlay. It is important to avoid biting on hard objects or using teeth as tools, as this can lead to damage or dislodging of the inlay. Maintaining good oral hygiene practices and following the dentist’s recommendations will help ensure the inlay’s success and minimize the risk of future issues.

Cost of Dental Inlays

The cost of dental inlays can vary depending on several factors, including the material used, the location of the tooth, and the complexity of the case. On average, dental inlays can cost anywhere from $500 to $1,500 per tooth. While this may seem more expensive compared to dental fillings, it is important to consider the benefits and longevity that dental inlays offer. Some dental insurance plans may cover a portion of the cost of dental inlays, so it is recommended to check with the insurance provider for coverage details.


Dental inlays are a reliable and aesthetically pleasing solution for repairing damaged teeth. They offer numerous advantages, including durability, improved aesthetics, and conservative tooth structure removal compared to dental crowns. While there may be some disadvantages and considerations to take into account, the benefits and long-term value of dental inlays make them a desirable option for many patients. Consult with a dentist to determine if dental inlays are the right choice for your dental restoration needs, and enjoy the benefits of a strong, healthy, and natural-looking smile.

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Jakob Larson

Greetings and welcome! I'm delighted you've taken the time to explore what fuels my drive in this awe-inspiring journey we call life. I am Jakob Larson, a Norwegian native enchanted by the scenic beauty of my homeland. Today, I've rooted myself in the equally stunning but sun-drenched surroundings of Florida. As I've navigated through the corridors of different cultures and landscapes, my deepest passion—dentistry—has remained steadfast. It is my core belief that an exceptional smile is a gateway to a healthier, happier you, both mentally and physically. Sharing this transformative ethos is not just what I do, it's who I am.

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