Restorative dentistry is a sector of the dental industry that is devoted to repairing, preserving or replacing damaged or missing teeth. Restorative dental treatments can range from small repairs such as fillings and sealing cavities, to fully replacing a tooth with dental implants, and everything in between. The practice of restorative dentistry is very important as it gives you the full use of your mouth and teeth again. It liberates patients who have sustained injury or illness and gives them the freedom to eat what they want.
There are many different types of restorative dental procedures. These treatments vary in the treatment plan, level of patient commitment, price, and severity of the damage done to the teeth. Your dentist will recommend a treatment based on your specific needs. Your dentist may also present you with several choices where applicable.
Let’s examine the 5 main types of restorative dental treatments that are widely available to patients in most dental practices.
Primarily, we will start with dental fillings. This is one of the most minor forms of restorative treatment and it is also one of the most common.
When you go to get a filling, it is likely that your tooth is still in-tact and you have simply sustained an injury, lost a filling, have an old filling, or have a cavity. Indeed, fillings are often used to fill cavities and root canals.
When placing a filling, your dentist drills into your tooth – often to remove a cavity. They use a dental filling to fill the affected area, sanitize it, and seal it shut. This protects the now weakened tooth from bacteria, chips, and breakage. The same method is used during root canal surgery. Your dentist simply uses the filling to completely fill the root of your tooth and seal it off from bacteria.
Dental fillings in modern times are most often made out of composite resin. In the past, metals such as gold and silver were used as fillings. On average, if you care for your teeth, permanent dental fillings last between 10-15 years and can last longer in some cases.
Dental fillings can also be used to repair chipped teeth. The same material, composite resin, can be used to repair parts of the tooth that have chipped off. Dental fillings are restorative in the sense that they repair parts of the tooth that have been removed or damaged in order to preserve the entire tooth and prolong its life for as long as possible. Dental fillings are often paired with dental crowns to provide strength and durability for your damaged tooth.
Dental crowns are a transformative form of restorative dental treatment. They act as a strong, protective outer layer for damaged teeth. They sit on top of the affected tooth and are custom-fitted to be snug and fit tightly, like an outer shell.
Dental crowns can be made from a variety of materials but they are often made out of ceramics because they can match the color of your tooth. They can also be made out of metals such as gold and silver amalgam.
Crowns are custom-fitted to your tooth. For the perfect fit, your dentist will take an impression of your bite. The crown is also held in place by a type of very strong dental cement. Dental crowns can last between 5-15 years with proper care. Dental crowns are technically a restorative dental treatment as they help to restore power and strength to your bite. However, they are also able to help preserve your existing tooth which helps you retain your natural teeth despite previous injury or infection.
3. Traditional Fixed Bridges
Fillings and dental crowns are excellent options for those who are looking to prolong the life of damaged teeth. However, there are also many different options for those who are missing one or more teeth as well. Patients of all ages experience tooth loss. It can be caused by poor oral hygiene, accidents, or injury to the mouth and jaw, and it is certainly something that your dentist can fix.
Fixed bridges are an excellent option for those who are missing one or more teeth. They fill the gap where your tooth or teeth once sat with a prosthetic structure called a bridge. Dental bridges work like real bridges, they are anchored to two existing teeth in your mouth and work to bridge a gap in the area where you are missing teeth. These are permanent, prosthetic teeth that are placed in your mouth and bonded to the anchoring teeth. They are often made out of ceramic resin and can be color-matched to your teeth.
Bridges are structured in a special way to maximize efficiency. There are two hollow crown-like structures on either end which are bonded to existing teeth that border the area where you are missing teeth. There are then one or more prosthetic teeth that sit on your gum line, anchored tightly in place by your real teeth. Your dentist will take impressions of your mouth and gums to be sure they fit properly and look and feel like natural teeth. These restoratives can last for 10-15 years with proper care.
In certain cases, when a patient is missing a full mouth of teeth, there is a treatment that combines both dental implants and bridges to create a type of bridge called an implant-retained bridge. These work in the same way as traditional fixed bridges, but the bridges are anchored to dental implants in the patient’s mouth, rather than natural teeth.
Dentures are the fastest and most cost-effective way to replace missing teeth. They instantly transform both the look and functionality of your mouth in seconds. Dentures are an excellent restorative option for those who are missing a full mouth of teeth.
However, they are also available as partial, or implant secured dentures, for those who are missing one or more teeth. Dentures are also very fast to make and they are an excellent option for patients who need an immediate tooth replacement solution.
Many patients choose to use dentures while they are waiting for additional treatments such as implants or fixed bridges. However, some patients choose to use dentures on their own as a form of tooth replacement because they can be relatively less expensive and can quickly and easily restore their smiles.
Unlike bridges or dental implants, dentures are removable. They must be cleaned and kept in water every night when you are not wearing them. Dentures are not effective at treating bone loss in the jaw. They are often made of acrylics and ceramics and have an average lifespan of 5-10 years when the dentures are properly cared for.
Your dentist will take impressions of your bite and have the dentures custom-fitted to your mouth. Dentures are held in place with a special type of adhesive but most patients find that they can keep them in place with their tongue and natural suction as well.
5. Dental Implants
Dental implants are the closest thing to your natural teeth and they are a very reliable form of tooth replacement. They are designed to replicate the look, feel, and functionality of regular teeth. However, they are not the best option for everyone – dental implants are the most invasive form of restorative dental treatments as they require surgery and a relatively long recovery time after they have been installed.
Dental implants are unique because they can be combined with other restorative treatments such as dentures and bridges. It is possible to get a full mouth of dental implants if you are missing the majority of your natural teeth. However, many patients opt for implant-supported dentures and implant-retained bridges. Which will give the same appearance of a full mouth of teeth for less. If you are missing one or two teeth, a dental implant can also be used on its own to fill the gap and make your smile look as natural as possible.
Depending on the length of time you have been missing teeth, you may require braces and/or bone grafting before you get dental implants. Braces may be needed because when you are missing a tooth for several months, the neighboring teeth can shift out of place. They can also move into the area where the tooth is missing and create gaps in your smile. Braces may be required to move these teeth back into place and make room for a dental implant.
Likewise, patients who have been missing teeth for several months may also experience bone loss in their jaw. The jaw bone can be too thin and small in some areas to support an implant. This bone must be replaced via a bone graft before the implants can be placed.
Implants are most often made from titanium. They are placed within the jaw to act as a tooth root. A dental crown sits on top and is held in place by a screw attached to the implant. Together they create the appearance and functionality of a natural tooth and can last 15-20 years with proper care.
Visit LA Dental Clinic for Restorative Dental Treatments
The team at LA Dental Clinic is committed to restoring your smile. You deserve to do the things you want like eat, smile and speak with confidence. Restorative dental treatments give you full use of your mouth again.
Whether you are missing teeth from infection, injury, or illness, or you have damaged teeth, just know that it does not have to be permanent. In dentistry, almost anything can be fixed and there is a restorative treatment for your unique situation.
The best way to determine which treatment is right for you is to meet with our dentists in a consultation. We will thoroughly examine your smile and talk about your goals, in order to create a treatment plan that fits your needs. Contact LA Dental Clinic or call at 213-385-9710.