A dental inlay is the most permanent restoration for a tooth with a small to medium-sized cavity on it. It is a restoration made out of porcelain or gold. These are the longest lasting restorative materials in dentistry; gold being the longest. The procedure is similar to that for a crown or an onlay, yet on a much smaller scale. It requires an impression of the prepared tooth be sent to a special dental laboratory. The lab technician fabricates the inlay to fit a stone model of your tooth. After the inlay is finished, the dentist cements or bonds it to your tooth. A gold inlay may easily last a lifetime. Porcelain can also last this long, but has not stood the test of time yet like gold has.
By restoring your tooth first with a porcelain or gold inlay, you are less likely to need a new restoration in the future. This is much better for your tooth, your time, and your money. The more a restoration needs to be replaced, the bigger the restoration becomes and the more damaged or traumatized your tooth becomes. This can lead to tooth fracture, the need for a crown, the need for a root canal, or even eventual tooth loss. It really makes sense to restore your cavities with inlays for the most permanent restoration possible.