Dental Inlay: What It Is and What It Can Do for You

Dental Restorations Fresno, CA

A dental inlay is typically recommended for a decayed tooth if its biting surface has been affected. These are indirect restorations that are made from an impression of the patient’s teeth and cemented into place. The procedure usually takes two dental visits to complete over the course of two weeks, which is the amount of time that it takes for the customized restoration to return the dentist from the lab.

What to expect when getting an inlay

Inlays are designed to fit inside the grooves of the affected tooth and are typically used for decay that mostly affects the center of a tooth and its outer biting edges, known as cusps. Getting one fitted on a decayed tooth is a simple process. It starts with the dentist diagnosing the patient’s decay to determine if fillings, inlays, onlays, or crowns would be the best solution.

Once it has been determined that inlays are the way to go, the dentist will give the patient a shot of a local anesthetic to numb the area that will be worked on. The dentist will then clean out the decayed tooth using tools like a dental drill.

When the tooth has been cleaned to the dentist’s satisfaction, the patient is asked to bite down on a mold that creates an impression of their tooth. The impression is forwarded to a lab, where the patient’s inlay is made. Porcelain or composite resins are commonly used for restorations because these can be easily color-matched with the patient’s teeth, so any repairs look natural.

During the patient’s second appointment, their customized inlay is attached to the tooth using dental cement. That completes the procedure, and the patient’s tooth should be fully restored. Inlays can last over 15 years with good oral hygiene, which is longer than fillings.

Reasons that a dentist might decide that an inlay is the most effective way to address a patient’s decay include:

  • A decayed or fractured tooth has damage that only affects the outer edges of the cusps
  • A patient’s tooth is decayed to the point that a large filling would be needed to restore it (dentists typically avoid using large fillings because they can expand when exposed to temperature extremes, damaging the structure of the filled-up tooth)
  • The decay or damage is not large enough to warrant treating it with a crown
  • A small filling cannot be used to treat the cavity


Taking good care of one’s mouth during the first 48 hours after getting an inlay is the key to a restoration that lasts. Avoid sticky and hard foods during this period because these can damage the inlay or lead to it becoming dislodged. Stay away from hot and cold foods as well. Stick to soft foods for the first few days following the procedure, and avoid brushing around the area.

We can protect your tooth with an inlay

An inlay might be the right solution for your decayed tooth. Give us a call or stop by our Fresno clinic to learn more about the process.

Request an appointment here: or call Professional Dental Care at (559) 467-1234 for an appointment in our Fresno office.

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

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