Inlays fall under restorative dentistry as they are used to fill and cover areas of the tooth where the damage is too extensive for a normal dental filling. Inlays are handcrafted from porcelain, gold or dental composite in a dental laboratory from a patient's specific dental imprints. They are used to repair the centre of the tooth that makes up the chewing surface of a tooth, or are used to repair large cavities.
The chewing surface of your teeth is a common area for cavities to form since food can easily become trapped between the cusps and deep fissures of the tooth. Bacteria feed on the trapped food and cause plaque, a colorless film made of saliva, food particles, acids and bacteria. The bacteria in the plaque, if not removed, forms a harder substance called tartar, which cannot be removed through normal brushing. The bacteria will continue to thrive and create acids which eat through the enamel of your teeth, causing small holes called cavities. If left untreated, cavities can grow and cause further decay and gum disease.
During the inlay procedure, the cavity will be cleaned out and the inlay will be fitted. Normally a temporary device will be fitted while the permanent inlay is made in a laboratory. The permanent fixture is placed during a separate dentist visit when it is ready. Inlays do not only restore the tooth to its original appearance and help the tooth regain its strength and function, but prevents any further damage and decay.
Inlays are durable, are able to be shaded to your natural tooth colour, are not likely to discolor, and because they are tailored to be an exact fit to your tooth, they are easy to clean. Inlays can also be used to replace broken or unsightly fillings as they are more aesthetically appealing and not as expensive as a full dental crown.