Restorative dentistry encompasses the “restoring” of the teeth when decay, fracture, or wear has occurred.
The most common type of restorative dentistry is what people call “fillings”. Fillings are usually placed to restore the tooth or teeth after removal of decay, or “cavities”.
The most common type of restoration is known as “Composite resin”. This is the tooth-colored material that people refer to most commonly as white fillings. The quality of the materials we use is constantly improving, and these materials can be used in a multitude of situations. Composite materials are used in situations where we formerly used silver-amalgam fillings. Composites are bonded to the the teeth by both mechanical and chemical bonding, and return much of the structural strength that was lost to the decay or trauma. They are very natural looking and feeling. There are instances where silver-amalgam fillings can still be used, but they are few and far between, and will eventually be unavailable.
Cosmetic Bonding involves using the same materials and bonding methods used for tooth-colored fillings, but using them on the front teeth to improve your appearance. We call this area the “Smile Zone”. Sometimes this is done to replace decay. Sometimes this is done to repair a fracture or trauma. And sometimes it is done to improve the looks of a tooth or teeth that are otherwise unattractive to you, the patient.
Crowns, Inlays, and Onlays
Crowns are what many people refer to as “Caps”. A crown can be made of many different materials, and for many different reasons. We choose the type of material after an evaluation and discussion of where and why you need the crown.
We sometimes place crowns due to tooth fracture. We place crowns due to a tooth becoming weaker over time due to a history of large fillings or extensive decay. We place crowns on many teeth that have an endodontic treatment (a root canal therapy) to increase strength and longevity. We can place crowns to improve esthetics (the way the teeth look). They can be placed of real teeth or on implants.
Crowns can be made of porcelain fused over a metal sub-structure. They can be made of all-ceramic (porcelain or porcelain-like) materials. They can be made of all metal , like a gold alloy, or other types of high noble metals. They can be made of a material called Zirconium, that is very,very strong, and yet looks like tooth structure. Why and when we place these different materials is based on each individual tooth, and each individual case.
Inlays and Onlays are restorations that are used when something stronger than a “filling” is needed, but placement of a crown may be too aggressive. “Inlays” are restorations that are made outside of the mouth, and then cemented or bonded INTO the tooth, hence the name “inlay”. Onlays are larger restorations, also made outside of the mouth, that are cemented or bonded ONTO the tooth, hence the name “onlay”. Inlays and onlays can be made of porcelain or other ceramic materials, or of metal, like gold alloys or other noble metals.
We will show you what, where, why, and how before we procede.
Bridges are a way to replace missing teeth that involves placing a Crown on the teeth in front and behind the missing tooth or teeth. Bridges can be made out of the same materials as crowns. They are bonded or cemented into your mouth. They look, feel, and function like real teeth. Sometimes a bridge is a great option, and sometimes there are better options. We will help you decide which option is best for you. Bridges can also be placed on real teeth or on implants.
Veneers are usually made of porcelain, or a similar reinforced resin/ceramic material, and are placed in your “Smile Zone” to improve the appearance of teeth that may have problems that can’t be satisfactorily dealt with in other ways. They can be used for severely discolored teeth that won’t whiten adequately, or teeth that are of noticeably different sizes and shapes than you would prefer. They are bonded to your teeth, and usually do not involve as much reduction of the natural tooth as crowns sometimes do.