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If patients wish a longer lasting restoration, or if the size of the filling is greater than 40-50% of the biting surface of the tooth, then an inlay may be chosen.
Inlays are fillings that are processed in a dental lab. They are usually gold or porcelain.
The life expectancy of inlays far exceeds that of fillings, especially with gold inlays. I have patients with gold inlays that are over 40 years in the mouth.
By definition, an inlay lies inside the cusp tips of the tooth.