An inlay restoration is a special type of custom made filling. Modern inlays may be made of tooth colored porcelain or composite material—or for patients who want their inlays to be seen, of gold. Porcelain inlays are quite popular because they are extremely durable, and resemble the enamel of your natural teeth. Porcelain inlays are made by a professional dental laboratory, then permanently cemented by your dentist into the tooth.
Inlays are a conservative way to repair teeth that have large defective fillings, or teeth that have been damaged by trauma or decay. Inlays are a widely accepted alternative to conventional composite or silver fillings. They are a more conservative treatment than crowns because considerably less tooth structure is removed in the process of preparing the tooth.
Like natural teeth and all dental restorations, inlays are subject to wear and damage. For this reason, they are not always permanent. Even the best of inlays may someday require service or replacement. Ceramic inlays are very durable, and will normally last for many years, enhancing your natural, beautiful smile.
An inlay procedure generally requires two appointments. During the first appointment, several very precise impressions (or molds) will be made. These will be used to construct a temporary restoration, which will protect your tooth until the lab can prepare the new custom inlay. The molds will then be sent to the dental lab, where they will be used to create your custom inlay.
The tooth and adjacent gum will be anesthetized, and while tooth is numb, the dentist will remove all decay and / or existing fillings. The space will then be carefully shaped to fit your new inlay, and thoroughly. A temporary filling will be placed in the opening to protect the tooth until your inlay is prepared by the dental laboratory.
When you return for your second appointment, the temporary filling will be removed, the opening again carefully cleaned, and your new inlay checked for fit. When everything is confirmed to be “just right”, it will be carefully and precisely cemented into the tooth. After placement, the dentist will make final checks, and if necessary, adjust it to ensure that your bite is comfortable and the fit is correct.
You will be given instructions for proper care of your newly restored tooth at the conclusion of your treatment. As with natural teeth any form of dental appliances, proper diet, good oral hygiene practices, and regular dental visits are important to extend the life of your new porcelain inlay.