Restorative dentistry covers a wide range of procedures, from simple fillings to complex dental implants. In many cases, dental restoration can not only improve the appearance of your smile, but also restore functionality and improve oral health.
Implants are synthetic structures that are placed in the area of the tooth normally occupied by the root. Implants are anchored to the jawbone or metal framework on the bone and act as a foundation for an artificial tooth or permanent bridge. In some cases, implants can be used to attach dentures.
Implants are so well designed that they mimic the look and feel of natural teeth. Implants are usually made of a synthetic yet biocompatible material like metal or ceramic.
Like any restoration, implants require diligent oral hygiene and proper care to ensure they last a long time.
Not everyone is a candidate for a dental implant, however. For a successful implant to take hold, a candidate must have proper bone density and have a strong immune system. In all cases, dental implants require strict oral hygiene.
Surgery is necessary to prepare the area for an implant and place the implant in the mouth. Following the procedure, a period of time is required for the implant to take hold and for bone tissue to build up and anchor the device. In some cases, metal posts are inserted into the implant during a follow-up procedure to connect the tooth.
Because implants require surgery, patients are administered anesthesia and, if necessary, antibiotics to stave off infection following the procedure.
A denture is a removable replacement for missing teeth and adjacent tissues. It is made of acrylic resin, sometimes in combination with various metals.
Complete dentures replace all the teeth, while a partial denture fills in the spaces created by missing teeth and prevents other teeth from changing position.
Candidates for complete dentures have lost most or all of their teeth. A partial denture is suitable for those who have some natural teeth remaining. A denture improves chewing ability and speech, and provides support for facial muscles. It will greatly enhance the facial appearance and smile.
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.
A 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.
With 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.
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 teeth as well as the proper bite relationship between upper and lower teeth.
There are several types of fixed dental bridges (cannot be removed), including conventional fixed bridges, cantilever bridges, and resin-bonded bridges. Some bridges are removable and can be cleaned by the wearer; others need to be removed by a 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.