Restorative dentistry is designed to return a damaged, destroyed, or lost tooth structure to its full form and function. Dental restorations include fillings, crowns, and dental implants.
Our dentists have many ways to repair decayed teeth. Here are some of the restorative techniques we provide to help you achieve the strongest and best-looking teeth possible:
Fillings do just what the name implies – they fill a small hole in your tooth, such as a cavity caused by decay. This prevents the decay from spreading deeper into your tooth and entering the nerve, a condition that would require root canal treatment to save the tooth.
First, we review your x-rays to determine the extent of the decay. Then we remove the decayed area of the tooth. Your tooth will be anesthetized first so you won’t feel any pain. If just the thought of having dental work provokes anxiety for you, please let us know; we can discuss medication that can help with this.
After we’ve removed the decay, the tooth is cleaned and then the filling material is applied. We like to use composite resin fillings instead of amalgam (silver) fillings. Composite fillings are color-matched to the existing teeth and are bonded to the tooth, which provides strength and requires no healthy tooth removal. Amalgam fillings, on the other hand, require the dentist to drill away part of the healthy tooth in order to retain the filling. Plus, the amalgam fillings can darken and corrode.
Dental sealants are invisible plastic resin coatings that are usually applied to the chewing surfaces of children’s back teeth, which are filled with tiny grooves. These grooves trap bacteria and food particles, which lead to cavities. A sealed tooth is far less likely to develop a cavity.
Inlays & Onlays
When the damage done to a tooth by decay is too extensive to treat with a simple filling, yet not significant enough to require a full-coverage crown, the best solution may be an inlay or onlay. These fillings are created outside of the mouth by a dental laboratory and then bonded to the tooth by the dentist. It is considered an “inlay” when the filling fits within the little points or “cusps” of a back (premolar or molar) tooth. It is an “onlay” if it covers one or more of these cusps.
It’s easiest to think of a crown as a “cap” that fits over a damaged, decayed, or unattractive tooth, completely covering the tooth above the gum line. Crowns support damaged teeth, allowing them to function normally again. Your dentist will recommend one if you have had a root canal, or if your tooth had extensive decay that could not be fixed with a filling.
If you’re missing a tooth, your dentist may recommend a dental bridge. A bridge fills the gap with a realistic-looking replacement tooth. It requires three crowns: the replacement tooth in the middle and crowns on the healthy teeth on either side, which will hold the bridge in place.
If you’re looking for a long-lasting replacement for a missing tooth, your best choice may be a dental implant. A dental implant is a titanium post that is supported by your jaw bone, just like a real tooth. Then it is topped with a custom-made, color-matched crown. An implant will never decay or need root canal treatment, and it feels just like a natural tooth.
If your teeth are healthy, but you don’t like their color, shape, or spacing, ask us about porcelain veneers. Unlike a crown, which caps the entire tooth, a veneer is an ultra-thin layer of porcelain that your dentist will attach to the front of your tooth. Its natural-looking surface corrects flaws including discoloration, chips, jagged edges, or gaps between teeth.