Restorative dentistry is a branch of dentistry which deals with restoring the function, integrity and aesthetics of diseased hard and soft tissues and damaged tooth structure to bring about a positive change in the smile and prevent further damage to the natural tooth. By repairing or replacing missing teeth or missing parts of the tooth structure, it brings back the mouth to its original physical form and normal state. Whether your teeth have suffered damage due to wear and tear or you have lost teeth due to disease or trauma or have a broken and chipped tooth as a result of falling or have crooked teeth and misaligned jaws impacting the appearance of your smile, or have lost your dental crown accidentally, restorative dentistry can help preserve dental structure and restore overall appearance using a variety of restoration techniques such as fillings, crowns, caps, bridgework, implants among other methods.
A set of beautiful white teeth that are in perfect alignment can help preserve a youthful look, regardless of your age. Besides this, a set of healthy teeth make everyday activities such as eating, drinking etc enjoyable. When something goes wrong with our teeth, day to day activities such as eating, drinking, chewing and talking can cause pain and discomfort and eventually become an unpleasant experience. By bringing decayed, damaged, misaligned or unattractive teeth back into tip-top shape, restorative dentistry can significantly help improve quality of life and reduce your risk of further damage to surrounding teeth. In addition to this, it helps bring back the perfect smile that a patient had before any wear-tear or damage to the tooth.
Why is it important to fix damaged or missing teeth timely?
There are many reasons why it’s important to replace missing teeth and repair damaged teeth. Dental problems like lost tooth enamel, chipped tooth etc are not only difficult to deal with aesthetically but also pose serious health risks and hence must be dealt with utmost urgency. Over time, the pits in the enamel may grow in size causing severe and painful sensitivity, discoloration, cracks and chips, and mineral loss. Similarly, there are several health dangers of having crooked teeth. Crooked teeth can cause oral health complications such as excess wear and tear on the teeth, cavities and gum disease, temporomandibular joint disorder, chronic headaches and even speech difficulties. Thus timely treatment of damaged or missing teeth is essential to prevent serious dental issues, damage to the surrounding teeth and irreparable damage to the tooth. Also, missing or decaying teeth can interfere with chewing ability and badly affect your appearance and self-esteem.
Direct and Indirect restorations
Restorations are classified as either direct or indirect. They both work differently for restoring damaged or decayed teeth. Direct restorations are entirely fabricated inside of the mouth such as fillings. Indirect restorations are fabricated outside the mouth and then attached to either the tooth or the tooth structure. They are usually fabricated at a dental laboratory based on the individual’s needs. While direct restorations are a more straightforward procedure and require only a single appointment to restore areas of damage or decay, indirect restorations may require two or more dental appointments to place on the affected tooth. Your dentist will choose the most suitable restoration option for you depending on the kind of issue you’re facing.
Now let us take a detailed look at different types of direct and indirect restorative dental treatments used by dentists to repair damaged teeth, replace missing teeth and strengthen and protect tooth structure.
Dental fillings are one of the most common types of direct restoration technique that have been used for decades in dentistry. They are widely used to replace and fill cavities in the teeth and restore damaged and decayed tooth structure to its original form. In a few cases, dental fillings are also used to restore the appearance of cracked or broken teeth and teeth facing the brunt of misuse such as nail biting or tooth grinding. While modern day fillings are primarily made of silver amalgam, a variety of other filling materials like gold, porcelain, tooth-colored plastic and resin may also be used to fill a tooth. If well maintained and cared for properly, a dental filling can last for several years and continue to provide a natural tooth-like appearance and functionality.
Root canal treatment
Root canal treatment is designed to remove the infected pulp of the tooth to prevent recurrent infection and excruciating pain related to decaying tooth and save the natural tooth without having to remove it. To be precise, root canals are the anatomical hollows within a tooth encompassing pulp, blood vessels, and nerves. During the root canal procedure, the dentist will first numb the area around the infected tooth. The infected pulp is then removed from the tooth using a drill. After extracting the infected pulp, the pulp chamber and root canal are thoroughly cleaned and disinfected with antibiotics. The area is then refilled and sealed with a crown to protect further damage. Modern day root canal procedures are simple and virtually free of pain. There’s no need to panic or fret about having an unpleasant experience if you are about to undergo a root canal procedure to treat the infected pulp of your tooth.
Dental crowns are permanent caps placed on the top of damaged, decayed, or cracked teeth to help restore the aesthetics, functionality, and strength of the tooth. In general, they are tooth-shaped and used to restore the shape of your teeth when dental cavities to be filled are quite large and significantly exceed the natural tooth structure. Dental crowns are custom designed to match the size, shape and color of the remaining natural teeth which makes them an ideal restoration option. They can be fabricated using a variety of materials such as gold, porcelain, resin and ceramics. Once the dental crown is ready, it is cemented into place on your tooth to effectively cover the visible portion of the tooth. Depending on your requirements, you can choose between a variety of crowns such as onlays, inlays, 3/4 crowns and traditional dental crowns.
Tooth bonding dental restoration technique is widely used by dentists for fixing cracked, chipped or discolored teeth. As it significantly enhances the tooth’s appearance and makes a smile look natural, it helps overcome self-consciousness and boost confidence. During the procedure, a tooth colored resin material is applied to one or more of your teeth. It is then hardened with a special light which allows the material to set and bond to the tooth to fix the structural flaws and improve the smile. The modern day dental bonding materials are highly durable and long lasting. They can withstand normal wear and tear in a better manner and remain intact for a considerable time period. As teeth can vary in shape and color from person to person, your dentist will use a shade guide to select a shade of resin that closely matches the color of your natural teeth. Hence bonded composite restorations are natural looking.
A denture is a removable replacement for one or a few missing teeth and surrounding tissues. During the procedure, artificial teeth are fixed to a plastic base which is sometimes connected by a metal structure that holds the denture in place inside the mouth. The artificial teeth or false teeth used in the dentures are designed to match with the neighboring teeth in the same jaw. Due to this reason, dentures can accurately restore the original structure of the mouth and the teeth. There are types of dentures available for tooth replacement – complete and partial dentures. While complete dentures are ideal for people who have unfortunately lost all of their teeth, partial dentures are used when a person has a few missing teeth. Whatever may be the type, dentures can instantaneously restore a smile that has been lost due to missing teeth and make chewing and speaking comfortable.
A dental bridge is a false set of teeth used to close or bridge the gaps in your smile due to missing teeth. Made up of two or more crowns, they are held in place by the abutment teeth on either side of the gap and are a permanent and comfortable restoration option. Although dental bridges have come a long way and can be made from a variety of materials such as gold and gold alloys, they’re mostly made from porcelain as it can help achieve the color and appearance of the natural teeth. There are four main types of dental bridges to achieve a perfect smile : traditional, cantilever, Maryland and implant supported. A traditional bridge is the most popular type of dental bridge. It is an excellent option when you have normal, natural teeth surrounding the gap created by your missing tooth on either side. If a tooth is missing, it creates gaps in the mouth. Very often, nearby teeth can move into the empty space and cause esthetic changes. Dental bridges come to your rescue to replace the lost tooth with a crown which prevents other teeth from moving out of their original space.
Dental implants are a safe and effective procedure for prosthetic replacement of missing teeth. While getting dental implants from an expert dental surgeon, the patient will feel very little or no pain at all. Due to this reason, dental implants are a befitting treatment option to replace missing teeth in modern times. A dental implant is originally placed into the jawbone (there is an important prerequisite that the jawbone must be healthy) and allowed to fuse with the bone just like a root over the span of a few months. Once it is set, it acts as a stable foundation to hold and support crowns, bridges or dentures. At times, having a dental implant inserted into the jawbone feels can be a better and more sustainable option for replacing missing teeth. This is because a dental implant stands intact and does not slip. They act as your missing teeth’ roots without the support of surrounding natural teeth. Most dental implants are made of titanium, which allows them to effortlessly and naturally bond with bone. The process in which the dental implant gets submerged into the jawbone is called “osseointegration.”
Taking care of your Restorative Dentistry work
While dental restorations help restore aesthetics and function of damaged teeth and help enhance dental wellbeing, if not cared for properly they may get damaged and can even fall off. Here are some simple steps that must be followed to ensure the longevity and durability of your dental restoration.
- Brush your teeth twice daily and floss once a day around your teeth and dental restorations such as implants, crowns etc to avoid plaque build up. Consider using an electric toothbrush to prevent plaque build up around your restorative work as it helps clean teeth much better than a manual toothbrush.
- Avoid hard or sticky foods as they can get caught between or underneath the dental restoration and damage them
- Use antiseptic mouthwash regularly to kill bacteria and effectively clean hard to reach surfaces around the restorative work.
- Continue to practice good oral hygiene to maintain your dental restoration for years to come.
Today restorative dentistry is largely gaining popularity to fill empty spaces in the mouth, resolve esthetic problems and prevent future oral health issues. Based on the patient’s requirements and the severity of decay or damage caused to the tooth structure, the dentist will recommend the most suitable treatment plan to achieve the desired outcome for patients.