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Inlays and onlays are used in teeth that have been damaged by decay or trauma. They make suitable replacements for fractured older fillings, acting as a cosmetic enhancement, and have the added benefit of being a more conservative treatment approach than crowns because they don’t require much of the tooth structure to be removed.
Inlays can be made of composite material, gold, or porcelain. Porcelain is a popular choice because it can be closely matched to the shade of the tooth and is naturally translucent. Porcelain is also the preferred material when the broken or decayed part of the tooth is too large for a composite (white) filling. Bonded onto the remaining tooth structure, porcelain is stronger than composite material but still provides excellent aesthetics that are preferable to conventional silver fillings.
Porcelain inlays and onlays are highly durable and last much longer than conventional fillings. With proper care, porcelain inlays and onlays will last a long time, but as with most dental restorations they may someday require replacement.