Inlays and onlays are two types of restorations that your dentist can suggest if you have a cavity in your tooth that needs to be filled. An inlay is a small filling that fits into the biting surface of a tooth while an onlay covers a larger area of the tooth and is better suited to bigger cavities. For many years, gold has been used to make inlays and onlays because it is a hard material and lasts for a long time. Nowadays, tooth-coloured porcelain is also used and gives the restored tooth a more natural look, which many patients prefer.
Inlays and onlays can be made in a dental laboratory by a technician, with the help of impressions taken of your teeth. While these are being made, you will wear a temporary filling. When your inlay or onlay is ready your dentist will glue it into place using a special adhesive, after removing the temporary filling.
Thanks to advances in digital technology (called CAD/CAM) porcelain inlays can be made at the dental practice using a special milling machine known as CEREC. This means you will need less visits to the dentist to have your tooth restored.