Restorative dentistry is any dental procedure that repairs or replaces a tooth. Restorative procedures can include cavity fillings, root canals, and even dental implants. There can be two goals in restorative dentistry: to restore the function of the teeth and to restore the appearance of the teeth. In order to reach these goals, the dentist must first assess the damage and then determine the best course of treatment.
Bridges are natural-looking dental appliances that can replace a section of missing teeth. Because they are custom-made, bridges are barely noticeable and can restore the natural contour of your teeth as well as the proper bite relationship between upper and lower teeth.
Bridges are sometimes referred to as fixed partial dentures, because they are semi-permanent and are bonded to existing teeth or implants. Some bridges are removable and can be cleaned by the wearer; others need to be removed by your dentist.
Porcelain, gold alloys or combinations of materials are usually used to make bridge appliances.
Appliances called “implant bridges” are attached to an area below the gum tissue, or the bone.
Crowns are synthetic caps, usually made of a material like porcelain, placed on the top of a tooth. Crowns are typically used to restore a tooth's function and appearance following a restorative procedure such as a root canal. When decay in a tooth has become so advanced that large portions of the tooth must be removed, crowns are often used to restore the tooth. Crowns are also used to attach bridges, cover implants, prevent a cracked tooth from becoming worse, or an existing filling is in jeopardy of becoming loose or dislocated. Crowns also serve an aesthetic use, and are applied when a discolored or stained tooth needs to be restored to its natural appearance.
ProceduresA tooth must usually be reduced in size to accommodate a crown. A cast is made of the existing tooth and an impression is made. The impression is sent to a special lab, which manufactures a custom-designed crown. In some cases, a temporary crown is applied until the permanent crown is ready. Permanent crowns are cemented in place. Crowns are sometimes confused with veneers, but they are quite different. Veneers are typically applied only to relatively small areas.
Caring for your crownWith proper care, a good quality crown could last up to eight years or longer. It is very important to floss in the area of the crown to avoid excess plaque or collection of debris around the restoration. Certain behaviors such as jaw clenching or bruxism (teeth grinding) significantly shorten the life of a crown. Moreover, eating brittle foods, ice or hard candy can compromise the adhesion of the crown, or even damage the crown.
Dentures are designed to replace missing teeth, and are worn by millions of Americans. Technological advancements have resulted in dentures that are lightweight and mimic the look and feel of natural teeth. Most dentures are made from a combination of metals and synthetic material such as acrylic resin.
Dentures are generally classified as partial or full. Partial dentures are designed to replace a small section of teeth, and help prevent existing healthy natural teeth from shifting position; full dentures generally replace an entire set of teeth such as upper and lower dentures.
Many candidates for conventional dentures (also called “immediate” dentures) are able to wear the appliances immediately following removal of affected natural teeth.
Before immediate dentures are worn, a mold of the patient’s mouth – specifically the jaws – must be made in order for the dentures to be customized for the individual.
Partial dentures, also sometimes called “overdentures,” are designed to fit over a small section of implants or natural teeth. Partial dentures are characteristic by their pinkish gum-like plastic bases, on to which replacement teeth are attached. Small clasps are used to attach the denture to existing teeth. Some clasps, which can be more expensive, are made of natural-looking material that is hard-to-detect.
In some cases, a crown will be installed on an existing healthy tooth to facilitate a better hold for the clasp.