An inlay (sometimes also called an "onlay" depending on the design) is a more durable alternative to a filling. Inlays also have better aesthetics.
For the same reasons that you may need a filling: because a tooth has been damaged by decay or trauma.
There are three different types of dental inlay: gold, porcelain and composite. Your dentist will advise which will give the best results in your case.
An inlay should last for many years. We are so confident of the quality of our inlays that we guarantee them for 2 years.
Please see our price list for reference. The exact price depends on the type of material used.
Your dentist will shape the tooth, removing any decayed or damaged material. Next, they will take an "impression" (ie make a mould of) your teeth and take a measurement of how you bite together. The dentist will record the shade of the tooth (nb: not for a metal inlay) so that the new inlay is an exact match. Your dentist will place a temporary filling while the permanent inlay is being made so that you don't have a large hole in the meantime.
In most cases your dentist will need to anaesthetise the tooth before working on it.
The impression, bite measurements and shade information are passed to a specialist dental laboratory. The laboratory makes the inlay to fit in perfectly with your tooth. About a week or two after your first appointment your dentist will see you for a second time to check that your new inlay is a good fit and that the shade is a good match. The inlay is then fixed in place using special dental cement.
If your dentist has suggested an inlay this is probably because the damage is too extensive to be repaired with a composite filling but not extensive enough to warrant placing a crown.