The right restorative procedures at the right time can reduce the need for additional dental work in the future.
Restorative procedures help protect both oral health and overall health while improving the appearance of the patient’s smile. Being able to properly chew food and having correct bite alignment affect a patient’s health in ways that go beyond just a smile.
The Biomimetic Approach
Biomimetic Dentistry is defined as the reconstruction of teeth to emulate their natural biomechanical and esthetic form and function. Simply put, biomimetic dentistry means to copy what is life-like. With biomimetic dentistry, only the damaged and decayed part of the tooth is removed and the final restoration is bonded to the remaining healthy natural tooth structure. Biomimetic restorations include stress-reduced direct composite restorations and porcelain/composite inlays and onlays that restore the biomechanics of broken and damaged teeth.
When restoring damaged, broken, and decayed teeth, the goal is to return the tooth to its original strength, function, and esthetic. Biomimetic dentistry accomplishes all of this in a conservative approach with strong and attractive results.
Composite fillings use tooth-colored material to restore teeth with cavities and maintain a natural appearance. Once the decay is removed, the tooth is filled with a composite material which is then cured using a specialized light to harden the material. Composite fillings can be done in one visit.
Inlays and Onlays
An inlay or onlay is a partial crown restoration that can be placed when there is not sufficient tooth structure to support a filling but enough tooth structure left that a full crown is not needed. Inlays/onlays are made of porcelain or gold, and they aesthetically and functionally replace the missing tooth structure.
A crown is a dental restoration that completely covers the outside of a tooth that is cracked, broken, worn down, or severely decayed. Dental crowns are usually completed in two visits. During the first visit, the tooth is prepared (shaved down) and an impression is taken. A temporary crown is placed while the permanent crown is fabricated. During the second visit, the permanent crown is carefully fitted and then cemented into place.
A bridge can replace missing teeth without the use of a denture or dental implant. A bridge is composed of two crowns and a replacement tooth or teeth. Crowns are typically placed on the teeth on either side of the space, with the fabricated tooth or teeth attached in between.
For multiple missing teeth, an implant may be used to anchor the bridge.
Dental Implant Restorations
Dental implants are composed of three pieces: a small screw made of a biocompatible metal called titanium, an abutment which connects the screw and the final restoration, and the final restoration. The screw, which is placed in the jawbone, acts as a replacement for the tooth root, providing a strong foundation for fixed or removable replacement teeth. The screw begins to fuse with the bone over the course of a few months. After the fusing process, known as osseointegration, the abutment is inserted into the screw to allow for the permanent attachment of the restoration.
A denture is a replacement for multiple missing teeth within the same (upper or lower) arch. A denture differs from a crown or bridge in that it does not rely on an existing tooth structure, and it completely replaces the missing teeth.
There are several different types of dentures:
- Full or Partial
- Removable or Fixed
- Traditional or Implant-Supported
Root Canal Treatment
Root canals are most often necessary when decay has reached the nerve of the tooth or the tooth has become infected. When root canal therapy is performed, infected or inflamed pulp is removed from the tooth chamber. The inside of the tooth is then cleaned and disinfected before being filled and sealed to limit the possibility of future infection. Soon after the root canal is performed, the tooth is restored with a dental crown or filling to protect the tooth and restore normal tooth function.
A tooth that can not be saved with restorative procedures may need to be removed. Before removal of the tooth, the area will be numbed with anesthesia. The tooth is loosened from the jawbone and surrounding ligaments and tissues with a gentle rocking motion. Once it is loose, it is gently removed. Stitches may be necessary after the removal of a tooth.