Dental inlay treatment provides a middle ground between fillings and crowns. When a tooth is too damaged to support a conventional filling an inlay or onlay may be prescribed. A large dental filling can weaken the remaining structure of the tooth leading to cracks or breaks. Crowns are not the preferred option in such cases as they remove more tooth structure than needed. Inlays and Onlays are often used in place of traditional dental fillings to treat tooth decay or structural damage that has extended beyond the control of fillings but a step below the level that necessitates a dental crown. Whereas dental fillings are molded into place within the mouth, inlays and onlays are fabricated in a dental lab before being fitted to the damaged tooth by the dentist. A dental inlay fills the space in between the cusps, at the center of the tooth's surface. A dental inlay, on the other hand, covers the entire biting surface across several cusps of the tooth. An onlay is required when the extent of the damage is greater. Inlays and Onlays can be made from gold, porcelain or composite resin materials. Gold inlays are the strongest and the most durable. However due to aesthetic concerns, porcelain or composite inlays are preferred. Gold and porcelain inlays are expensive in comparison to other materials. The treatment requires two sessions, in the initial session, the dentist prepares the ground for the inlay/outlay by clearing the infection and taking the impression for the preparation of the inlays. In the second session, the prosthetic inlay is bonded to the tooth. The procedure is generally safe with minimal side effects including pain or swelling that subside with time.
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