Tooth Restoration Techniques

Tooth restoration can be used to correct a variety of dental problems. Some techniques are more invasive than others and may require a longer recovery time.

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Amalgam is the most popular indirect restoration (personal communication, Limoli and Associates, October 2021). Lithium disilicate and leucite reinforced glass ceramic veneers have improved esthetic properties with better abrasion resistance and reduced susceptibility to staining.

Dental Fillings

A dental filling seals a small hole, or cavity, in the tooth. It helps prevent further decay, protects the tooth root, and reduces sensitivity. It also prevents the need for more serious dental procedures like root canals and tooth extractions. A dentist can perform this procedure by removing the damaged area of the tooth, cleaning the space, and filling it in with a tooth-colored material.

Dental fillings can be made of metals like silver amalgam, gold, composite resin, glass ionomer cement, or ceramics. They may be placed directly into a tooth or indirectly as inlays or onlays.

Composite fillings are the most common and offer a natural appearance, but they can chip or wear over time. They are best suited for minor fractures and tooth decay and can be used in both front and back teeth.

Traditional glass ionomer fillings are less durable, but they contain no mercury and release fluoride to help prevent further decay. They are primarily used in children’s teeth. Porcelain or other ceramics are highly resistant to temperature changes and provide a more natural color. They are most often used in indirect restorations such as inlays or onlays, but can also be bonded to the surface of the tooth for additional strength.

Dental Crowns

Dental crowns (also known as caps) are placed on damaged, decayed, misshapen or discolored teeth to restore their appearance and function. The dentist prepares the tooth by shaping and removing any decay, a root canal or other necessary treatment, then takes impressions for the crown to ensure that it fits properly. Generally, crowns are made of porcelain fused to metal but other materials, including ceramics, are available. The choice depends on the tooth’s location, its strength needs and the patient’s aesthetic goals.

A crown may be used to repair a cracked or fractured tooth, to cover a dental implant, to support a bridge or to fill in a space. The crown restores the tooth’s shape, strength and appearance, helping to prevent infection and maintain the bite.

In some cases, the dentist can create a same-day crown using CEREC technology, which allows the office to produce, manufacture and insert individual, natural-looking ceramic inlays or onlays right at the point of care. These same-day procedures offer a number of benefits, including reducing the need for multiple visits, lab work and temporary crowns. However, same-day crowns are typically more expensive than traditional dental crowns. Check with your insurance provider for coverage details. Immediately following crown placement, you can expect to experience some degree of sensitivity to hot and cold. Over-the-counter pain relievers can help. It is also a good idea to avoid sticky foods and to stop clenching your teeth, which can damage or loosen the crown.

Dental Veneers

Dental veneers are wafer-thin shells that we can bond to the front of your teeth to change their appearance. We can use porcelain or resin composite veneers, depending on your preferences. Resin composite veneers can be sculpted chair-side by our dentist and typically are done in one visit, while porcelain is done outside the mouth and requires two visits.

Before you get your veneers, we will need to take scans of your teeth and X-rays to ensure they will fit properly and look natural. We will also take this opportunity to check your teeth for issues such as decay or gum disease that must be addressed before you receive your veneers.

We will then prepare the tooth by trimming away a small amount of the surface. We will also etch the tooth, which roughens it and helps it bond better with the cement. Once we have the perfect fit, we will cement the veneer in place and shine a special light on it to activate the chemicals in the bonding material.

Veneers are known for their strength, durability and resistance to staining. While they can last for many years, it’s important to care for them to help prolong their life. That means practicing good oral hygiene, which includes brushing twice per day and flossing daily. Also, be careful not to bite your nails or chew ice cubes, which can chip or crack the veneers.

Dental Implants

Dental implants replace missing teeth with prostheses that look, feel and function just like natural teeth. Unlike traditional dentures that can cause bone loss in the area of the missing tooth, an implant preserves the bone in which it is placed by stimulating natural bone growth around the titanium screw-shaped post. In addition, a fixed restoration prevents adjacent teeth from shifting to fill the gap, which could affect your bite and overall oral health.

Patients who receive dental implants require a thorough examination to ensure that they are good candidates for this procedure. The general state of the gums and jaw bone will be assessed with radiographs and a surgical site evaluation. In some cases, pre-prosthetic procedures such as a sinus lift or gingival graft may be needed to recreate ideal bone and mucosa before an implant can be placed.

During the healing process, which can take up to a year, a small connector post called an abutment is attached to the implant. Then, the replacement tooth (or teeth) is attached to the abutment with either a crown or a bridge. In some cases, mini-implants can be used to support removable dentures, in which case the abutment would be connected to anchors that hold the denture in place. The entire process usually takes between 6 months and a year from initial consultation to the completion of the treatment.