There are alternatives to the mercury or amalgam fillings of the past. In conservative restorations, tooth-colored filling materials may be used.
Inlays and onlays are used when a restoration is needed for a tooth but the remaining tooth structure is either insufficient to support a filling properly or a longer lasting restoration is preferred. Inlays and onlays are made of either porcelain or gold to restore the tooth to its natural contours while greatly increasing strength.
Inlays resemble fillings and are designed to rest inside the cusps of the tooth. Onlays are used for more substantial reconstruction, similar to the inlay, but extending out over one or more of the cusps of the tooth.