Also referred to as restorative dentistry, this is the repair of a damaged or decayed tooth, restoring it back to its normal shape, appearance and function. A dental restoration is also called a filling. The name of the material that is used to repair a tooth is often the name given to the repair process.
Through tooth restorations, a dentist can replace missing teeth or repair missing parts of the tooth structure due to decay, deterioration of a previously placed
restoration, or fracture of a tooth. Examples of dental restorations include;
- Root Canal
Each of these dental restorative services helps restore a lost or damaged tooth due to disease or injury. Restoring the function of the teeth not only prevents the loss of a tooth, but also allows speech. It also permits normal eating and chewing and improves the appearance of the face.
How Are Dental Restorative Services Performed?
Different types of dental restorations are used in particular situations.
1. Amalgam Restoration
An amalgam is an alloy of two or more metals. Amalgam fillings consist of mercury, powdered silver and tin which are mixed and then packed into cavities in teeth. It hardens slowly, and replaces the missing tooth substance. The fillings are held in place by the shape of the prepared cavity. Fillings are the most common type of dental restoration, despite an ongoing debate about mercury poisoning.
The cavity must have an
undercut to prevent the filling from falling out. The amalgam is then slotted
into the cavity.
2. Bonding or Composite Restoration
A plastic tooth-colored material known as composite resin is used as a filling. The process of fusing the material to the tooth is called bonding. The composite resin is placed into the cavity in layers until the tooth is restored to its original form. An
ultraviolet light is then used to harden it. Unlike silver-amalgam filing, there is no the need to cut into a tooth to hold a filling in place. Therefore, fewer teeth need to be cut away for a filling. Most importantly, the tooth can be used almost immediately.
3. Inlay restoration
This is a solid filling material cemented into a tooth that has been specially prepared for it. Most inlays are made of gold or tooth-colored porcelain.
An impression of the prepared cavity is first taken using an elastic material. It is then sent to a dental technician who will make the inlay.
4. Onlay Restoration
An onlay is a modified dental inlay and may be made of gold or tooth-colored porcelain. It is also made by a dental technician, from the impression taken of a prepared cavity. Unlike inlay, it fills the cavity and also covers and protects the chewing surface of the tooth.
5. Replacement Crown
Just as its name implies, a replacement crown replaces the natural crown of a tooth. It is often used to replace a large part of the original crown of a tooth destroyed by injury or decay.
The remaining portion of the tooth is first trimmed down in preparation for a replacement crown. The impression of the prepared tooth is then taken and sent to a dental technician to make the replacement crown. The new crown is then cemented onto the remaining part of the tooth. The crown may be made of gold, porcelain or a combination of the two materials. Temporary crowns are made of acrylic. A replacement crown is also made for a healthy tooth when it forms part of a bridge or is used to improve the appearance of a tooth.
6. Porcelain Veneer
A veneer can be a thin porcelain or plastic material used to replace only the front visible part of the tooth. It is used to repair and also whiten the teeth permanently and make the mouth more attractive.
The dentist will prepare the tooth, take its impression and then send it
to a dental technician to make the veneer. The porcelain veneer is then
cemented into place, using special cement that bonds it to the tooth. This restorative
procedure is popularly used to improve the appearance of the teeth.
These are removable replacement
for missing teeth and surrounding tissues. Complete dentures replace all the
teeth while partial dentures are considered when some natural teeth remain. Dentures are made of acrylic resin sometimes
combined with metal attachments.
Complete dentures are either conventional or immediate. A conventional denture is placed in the mouth about a month after all the teeth are removed to allow for proper healing. An immediate denture then again is placed as soon as the teeth are removed.
Recovery After Dental Restorative Services
Especially for dentures, see your dentist regularly for signs of disease or cancer. To maintain a proper fit over time, it may be necessary to remake your denture. However, don’t adjust a denture yourself or use denture adhesives for an extended period as it can contribute to bone loss. Dentures are fragile, so take good care of your mouth. Don’t sterilize them with boiling water because they will warp. For partial dentures, remove them before brushing your natural teeth. When not in use, soak them in water. When in doubt, always consult your dentist.