How Many Types of Inlays Are There?

How Many Types of Inlays Are There?

Feb 14, 2023

Thanks to improvements in dentistry, teeth damage or decay can be corrected with dental restorations such as dental inlays. An inlay is a custom-made solid restoration that fills cavities or spaces in a tooth. The inlay is molded or shaped to fit into the grooves of your tooth.

Types of Dental Inlays

Based on your condition, the dentist can recommend the following types of dental inlays:

  • Gold inlays

Thanks to the strong and durable nature of gold, it was the preferred material choice for inlays and onlays in the past. Like your natural teeth, gold is extremely strong and can withstand the tremendous forces of chewing and grinding foods. It also protects your teeth against fractures and infections.

Due to its noticeable color, gold is currently less popular as most people prefer tooth-looking restorations. However, their color and strength make them perfect for back-teeth restoration.


  • Very strong and durable. It can last for more than 20 years.
  • Stain-resistant
  • Lower risks of damage and fractures


  • Relatively expensive than other restorations
  • Poor aesthetics. Some people find gold color attractive, while others don’t.
  • Ceramic or porcelain inlays

Inlays contain porcelain. Thanks to the porcelain tooth-looking appearance, ceramic inlays can be customized to match the color of your natural teeth. It’s an excellent alternative to colored restorations like amalgam and gold.

Besides their perfect aesthetics, ceramic inlays are strong and durable enough to restore your bite function and protect your tooth against infections and damage.


  • Great aesthetics
  • Strong and durable. Ceramic inlays can last for more than 15 years.
  • Resist staining better than your tooth enamel
  • Lower risk of fractures


  • More fragile than gold restorations
  • Higher risks of fractures due to its rigidity
  • More expensive than most restorations
  • Zirconia inlays

Zirconia is a relatively new dental restoration material. Zirconia is extremely strong and can withstand great forces of eating. It’s also durable and can last for more than 15 years. Their strength and resilience make them ideal for people with bruxism.

Like porcelain, zirconia can blend naturally with your natural teeth. Zirconia is also easy to place, requiring just one dental office. Another benefit of zirconia is that it’s biocompatible, meaning they are unlikely to cause any allergies.


  • Good esthetics
  • Strong and durable
  • Stain-resistant
  • Biocompatible and allergy-free
  • Fewer dental appointments


  • Less natural looking
  • It may be more expensive than metal and composite inlays
  • Composite inlays

Composite inlays can be customized to blend naturally with the rest of your teeth. It’s a great, cheaper, but less durable alternative to colored restorations like gold.


  • Good aesthetics
  • Less prone to stains and damage
  • Cheaper than most inlays


  • Not stain resistant
  • Less durable and strong than most inlays

Which Inlay is Right for You?

As you can see, each inlay comes with benefits and cons. Gold inlays are ideal if you’re interested in strength and durability rather than appearance. Zirconia and ceramic inlays are suitable if you want a mix of natural appearance and good strength and durability. While composite inlays are natural looking, they are less durable.

In terms of costs, gold inlays might be the most expensive. While expensive, they can last for more than 20 years, making them a worthwhile investment. Zirconia and ceramic inlays are slightly lower priced than gold.

Composites are less expensive but more susceptible to fractures than other inlays. Our dentist will help you choose the right inlay based on your condition, preferences, and budget.

Dental Inlays Aftercare

Use the tips below to care for your treated tooth and prevent further damage:

  • Brush at least twice daily.
  • Floss daily.
  • Rinse regularly with a fluoride mouthwash.
  • Get regular preventive procedures like fluoride treatments and dental sealants.
  • Eat a healthy diet and hydrate well. Avoid hard, sticky, sugary, and acidic foods and beverages.
  • Avoid damaging dental habits like opening packages with your teeth or chewing hard things like nails, ice, and pens.
  • Avoid or limit tobacco use.
  • Schedule routine dental cleanings and exams.

Are you interested in dental inlays and onlays in Wellesley, MA? Contact Wellesley Dental Arts.

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