Tooth Restoration Explained

Tooth restoration restores the aesthetic and functional properties of teeth. It includes procedures like fillings, crowns, bridges and dentures.

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When bacteria eat away at your tooth enamel it creates holes that are called cavities. Your dentist will repair these with a tooth-colored composite resin.

Alternative bonded restorative materials are now available for direct tooth restorations, replacing the older amalgam material.

Tooth-colored fillings

Tooth-colored fillings, or composite fillings, are a tooth restoration option that are tinted to match the color of the tooth enamel. They are used to fill and close the hole left by a cavity after the decayed portion of the tooth has been removed as well as to help repair broken or chipped teeth. Because of their natural appearance, these dental restorations are a popular choice for patients who want to preserve the aesthetics of their smile.

Dental composites are made from a blend of plastic resins and silica fillers that replicate many of the qualities of natural tooth structure, including translucency and wear resistance. Unlike silver amalgam fillings, composite resins bond to the remaining healthy parts of a tooth, so less of the tooth structure needs to be removed for placement. They are also a better choice than traditional dental amalgams for repairing back teeth that experience more wear because of chewing pressure.

The process for placing tooth-colored fillings begins with cleaning the area and removing any traces of decay. Once the tooth is prepped, a bonding solution is applied to the surface of the tooth and the composite material is placed in layers. The dentist will use a high-intensity blue light to “cure” each layer before applying the next. The layered technique provides the strength and durability that are necessary for long-lasting restorations. After the composite is cured, the dentist will check your bite and make any final adjustments.

Dental crowns

Crowns are designed to protect weak, broken, or damaged teeth. The dentist will sculpt the crown into shape so it covers the affected tooth and restores the appearance of the smile. They can be fabricated from porcelain, porcelain fused to metal, precious metals, or other materials. Before fabricating a crown, the dentist will anesthetize the tooth to avoid discomfort.

Then the dentist will remove the decayed part of the tooth, rebuild the chewing surface, and reshape the tooth to fit the crown. This can take more than one appointment. The dentist will also make a temporary crown to cover the tooth during the healing process.

After the crown is fabricated, the dentist will place it on the tooth and make sure it fits correctly. Then the dentist will cement it into place and check to make sure that the bite is even, preventing the crown from biting down or touching other teeth.

The dentist can select from several types of crowns, depending on the needs of the patient and the budget. The most cost-effective are metal crowns, which provide strong support for back molars and can withstand biting and chewing forces. However, the metallic color can be unsightly for front teeth. Porcelain-fused-to-metal crowns are more natural looking, but they tend to wear down faster than other crown types.

Dental bridges

Dental bridges can replace one or more missing teeth. They can also prevent adjacent teeth from shifting to fill in the gap and improve the function of your mouth, allowing you to chew and speak normally again.

Traditional fixed bridges consist of two crowns (caps) on the natural teeth on either side of a missing tooth, with an artificial tooth (pontic) in between. To prepare for a bridge, your dentist will file the adjacent teeth (abutment teeth) and make impressions of your teeth to ensure that the crowns fit well and are structurally sound. You may receive a temporary bridge to wear until your permanent one is ready, and your dentist will cement it in place with a dental cement that bonds to both the crowns and the pontic.

The crowns and pontics of your dental bridge are made of porcelain, a material that can be shaped to closely resemble your natural teeth. Your dentist will match the color of your bridge to your other teeth, so they’ll be virtually indistinguishable from the rest of your smile.

Because bridges are bonded to your teeth, you won’t be able to remove them throughout the day or overnight. However, this is usually a good thing, as it will prevent your bridge from falling out at an inconvenient time. Also, bridges will provide stability and prevent your gum line from receding, which could lead to other dental problems.

Dental implants

Implants replace missing teeth and provide the support for artificial (fake) teeth. They are surgically placed into the jawbone, where they become fused to it over time in a process called osseointegration. Dental implants can also help prevent bone loss in the jaw, which can happen after a tooth is lost.

The first step in the dental implant process involves a thorough examination and a customized treatment plan that will take into account your medical history and current oral health. We will use digital X-rays and 3D images to evaluate the structure of your gums and bones. If necessary, we can also refer you to a specialist in the treatment of conditions affecting the mouth and jaw (oral and maxillofacial surgeon), or to a dentist who designs and fits artificial teeth (prosthodontist).

If your jawbone isn’t thick enough or soft to support an implant, we will perform a bone graft to build up the area. We can use either natural bone, taken from another part of your body, or a synthetic bone-substitute material.

Once the dental implant post has bonded to your jawbone, we can place a custom-designed crown to replace the missing tooth. Alternatively, a bridge or denture can be attached to the implant for more comprehensive tooth replacement. Keeping up with dental hygiene and scheduling regular visits to your dentist will help ensure the health of your new teeth.