When Getting a Dental Inlay is the Right Option

Dental Restorations Huntsville, AL

Patients who are dealing with cavities may need a dental inlay to restore their smile. While many patients are familiar with the traditional fillings that are used as a treatment, there is often confusion regarding what inlays are and how they differ from a filling. The following explains what patients need to know about this procedure and why it can be necessary. 

What is a dental inlay? 

An inlay is a special type of customized filling that is fabricated to fit the shape and size of the cavity. This restorative dental treatment is typically used for patients who have damage to the biting surface of a tooth. Inlays are typically comprised of composite resin or porcelain, as both materials can closely match the natural color and appearance of the teeth. Metal, such as gold, was frequently used in the past but is not as common in recent years as it is more obvious in the mouth than the other materials. 

When an inlay is necessary 

A dental inlay is often recommended by a dentist for patients who have moderate to severe tooth decay as well as fractured or broken teeth that do not have damage to the cusp. 

The difference between inlays and fillings 

Inlays and fillings are two different types of restorations. Fillings are a direct restoration, meaning they are repaired inside the mouth. Inlays, on the other hand, are an indirect restoration. These are constructed outside of the mouth and then attached to the tooth. An inlay is often used to repair a tooth with a cavity that is too large for a filling but is not severe enough to require a crown, as well as broken teeth that are not extensively damaged enough to need a crown or root canal. 

Dental inlay procedure 

A dentist first drills out the decay in the tooth and may file down parts of the tooth to ensure the inlay is able to adhere properly. An impression of the tooth is then taken and either used in the office or sent off to a lab for fabrication to ensure the customized inlay fits correctly. If the inlay needs to be created at a lab, the dentist may place a temporary inlay until the permanent one is completed. When the inlay is complete, it is attached with a strong cement to keep it in place. 

What are the benefits of inlays?

There are numerous benefits to dental inlays. The treatment helps to preserve more of the tooth’s natural structure and provides added support that helps with chewing. A dental inlay also helps to strengthen teeth and typically lasts longer than fillings when properly cared for. 


Patients with moderate issues such as cavities and damaged teeth can benefit from a dental inlay. In addition to repairing a patient’s smile, this treatment can help preserve more of the natural tooth and restore its function. With proper care, dental inlays can last for many years. 

Request an appointment here: https://www.smilesbydesignhuntsville.com or call Smiles by Design, PC at (256) 660-3233 for an appointment in our Huntsville office.

Check out what others are saying about our dental services on Yelp: Dental Restorations in Huntsville, AL.

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