If you have damaged, worn, missing, or unhealthy teeth, dental restoration can help return your teeth to excellent function, health, and even appearance.
What is dental restoration?
Dental restorations are various treatments that rebuild tooth structure, including fillings, crowns, implants, and more. Dental restoration can often restore both the look and function of damaged teeth at the same time. Many tooth restorations are integral to preventing further tooth decay or damage in the future, and to restoring healthy and comfortable chewing function.
When is dental restoration necessary?
Your dentist may recommend dental restoration if you are suffering from tooth pain, cavities/tooth decay, damaged or broken teeth, or missing teeth.
6 Most Common Dental Restoration Procedures
Dental fillings are the most common type of dental restoration. When dental decay creates a cavity in a tooth, a dental filling is used to fill in the cavity. Your dentist will first clean the tooth, and will then fill the cavity.
Dental fillings can be made of various materials, including silver amalgam or composite resin.
Composite resins are a newer material used for fillings, and are often now preferred due to the color (white) which matches healthy teeth. Further, composite resins never expand or contract, whereas metal fillings can do so, sometimes causing damage to teeth.
Dental crowns are another common type of tooth restoration. A dental crown is a cap placed over an entire tooth. Like fillings, crowns can be used to protect teeth that have cavities. A crown is used when a cavity is too large for a regular filling to be effective.
Other uses for dental crowns include:
- Protecting weak or cracked teeth
- Protecting worn-down teeth
- Protecting teeth that are vulnerable after a root canal
- Anchoring a bridge that replaces missing teeth
Some materials used for dental crowns require replacement after 15-20 years, or for cosmetic reasons.
Dental implants support restorations for missing teeth. Implants are anchors placed in the jawbone which act as artificial roots. Implants hold replacement teeth, such as crowns or bridges, in place. Dental implants are often made of titanium or titanium alloy.
While it can take months and multiple procedures to complete traditional dental implants, mini dental implants are a smaller, less invasive option offered by Smile Design Dentistry.
Bridges are artificial teeth that close the gap created by missing teeth.
Bridges are sometimes attached via crowns on surrounding teeth (called abutment teeth). Bridges are fabricated in porcelain, resin, and/or ceramics to match the color of natural teeth.
There are different types of bridges, including:
- Conventional or Traditional Dental Bridge (supported by crowns on abutting teeth)
- Maryland or Adhesive Dental Bridge (no use of crowns on abutting teeth; can be used when surrounding teeth are whole and healthy)
- Cantilever Dental Bridge (location of missing tooth means only one abutment tooth needed)
- Implant-Supported Dental Bridge (use dental implants instead of crowns to anchor the bridge)
The type of bridge your dentist recommends will depend on the health of the surrounding teeth and the location of the missing teeth.
Because bridges are fabricated for each individual patient, and can require the addition of crowns or implants for support, bridge procedures can take several appointments to complete.
Veneers & bonding
Veneers are natural-looking, tooth-colored shells that cover the front of a tooth (or several teeth). Veneers can make small or short teeth appear more even, and can even bring a uniform look and color to discolored, cracked, or chipped teeth. Veneers are considered a cosmetic procedure and are not usually covered by dental insurance.
Dental bonds, like veneers, can perfect the look of cracked, discolored, or chipped teeth. A bond is a composite resin applied to your tooth to repair the crack or chip.
Bonding is not as sturdy as a veneer, meaning additional restoration procedures can be required if a bond is chipped. Bonding is sometimes considered a cosmetic procedure, but not always, so check with your dental insurer to find out if the procedure is covered under your plan.
Dental inlays & onlays
Inlays and onlays are custom restorations created to treat a cavity. If a cavity is too big for a filling, yet too small for a crown, a dental inlay or onlay may be used.
Dental Restoration at Home
While you’ll want to visit the professionals for resolving dental issues such as cavities, cracked, broken, or missing teeth, there are steps you can take at home to keep your teeth feeling healthy and looking good.
Regular brushing and flossing are the most important steps to keep your teeth functional and beautiful.
Can you restore lost tooth enamel?
Once tooth enamel has been lost, it cannot be restored. Weakened enamel can be strengthened, though, by boosting its mineral content.
Try these at-home strategies for strengthening weakened tooth enamel:
- Brushing regularly with fluoride toothpaste
- Drinking plenty of water
- Avoiding sugary foods and acidic drinks (sodas, sports drinks, energy drinks, sweet teas, and fruit juices) that damage enamel
Can tooth color be restored?
Discolored teeth can often be successfully whitened using peroxide-based bleaching solutions. However, if the tooth discoloration is a result of lost enamel and exposed dentin, whitening products may not be successful in restoring tooth color. In this case, a veneer may be the best option for creating a uniform tooth color.
You can try at-home products, such as special toothpaste, gels, or strips, for whitening teeth.
In-office dental whitening will often produce the most noticeable results, however, so consider scheduling an appointment if you are hoping to make a big impact with a whiter smile.
FAQs about Dental Restoration
Do I need anesthesia for tooth restoration?
Localized dental anesthesia is often used for tooth restoration. As a result, you are awake and aware during procedures, but pain is minimized. Dental anesthesia can be mild or more extensive depending on the needs of the patient and what tooth restoration procedure is administered.
How clean does a cavity need to be for tooth restoration?
In the very early stages of a cavity, deep cleaning with fluoride may actually restore your tooth’s enamel and reverse the damage. After this very early point, however, your tooth will require cleaning by your dentist before a filling or other restoration is performed.
How long does tooth restoration last?
Depending on the type, dental restorations can last 10-20 years or more. The materials used for fillings and other restorations, as well as your personal dietary and oral hygiene habits, can affect the lifespan of dental restorations.
Schedule an appointment for dental restoration today
For a restoration that’ll leave you smiling brightly, find your location and schedule an appointment with the dental restoration experts at Smile Design Dentistry.