Restorative dentistry covers a range of procedures designed to restore chipped, cracked, broken, or otherwise sub-optimal teeth and other oral structures to full working order. While there is a cosmetic aspect to most restorative dentistry, restorative dentistry is different from cosmetic dentistry. Cosmetic dentistry only addresses the look and aesthetics of teeth, without changing their function.
Types of Dental Restoration
There are many types of restorative dental options available to patients to address a robust collection of problems and concerns.
A crown is the part of a tooth visible above the gum. It’s the part we use to chew, bite, and tear our food. When a tooth crown becomes chipped or cracked, an artificial crown is used to restore it.
A simple way to think of dental crowns is as a helmet for your tooth. The crown sits over the tooth and restores its function and stability. Patients can use the tooth again without pain and discomfort. Dental crowns also prevent further damage by restoring the integrity of the tooth, preventing chips and cracks from growing, and protecting the tooth from infection.
Crowns can be made out of a variety of materials. Porcelain is a popular option because of how closely it matches tooth enamel in appearance. Gold is also a popular, if less common, the choice for dental crowns. Although it’s often seen as “blingy”, gold is actually a very effective material for crowns. It’s the most durable material available and will last many decades if cared for properly.
Zirconia, a white metal, is another great option for crowns. It provides the strength and durability of metal crowns, with some of the aesthetic benefits of porcelain crowns.
Dental bridges are similar to crowns but are used to replace missing teeth rather than just restore a damaged one.
A dental bridge is actually made of several crowns fused together. The crowns at either end are placed over healthy teeth, while the crown(s) in the middle take the place of missing teeth. Hence the name, “bridge” — the bridge the gap between healthy teeth left after teeth are extracted.
Dental bridges can be made out of the same materials as dental crowns.
Root Canal Treatment
A root canal treatment is used to save a heavily infected tooth from extraction. When a tooth is severely infected, the innermost tissue of the tooth (the pulp) becomes inflamed. This can cause severe pain.
With a root canal treatment, dentists use specialist tools to drill a hole into the tooth and carefully remove the infected pulp from inside. By clearing out the entire root canal within the tooth, they remove the infection and, hopefully, prevent re-infection. The extracted pulp material is replaced with an artificial, gum-like material to restore the tooth’s integrity, and a crown is then placed on top.
Root canal treatment free patients from pain and can restore healthy function within a tooth that might otherwise need to be extracted.
One of the most impressive restorative treatments available are dental implants. Crowns and bridges restore the crowns of teeth that are damaged or missing. Only dental implants restore a missing tooth down to the tooth root.
A dental implant, specifically, is a titanium screw that’s inserted into the jaw where a tooth root used to be. The implant acts as an artificial tooth root, on which a prosthetic can be attached. This prosthetic — such as a crown or bridge — then replaces the rest of the tooth above the gum line.
Restorations using dental implants typically comprise of three components: the implant itself, an “abutment” — a piece that allows prosthetics to connect to the implant — and finally, the prosthetic.
Dental implants are a multi-step process:
- Planning the implant using detailed X-Ray scans, often in 3D. Precise placement of the implant is paramount to their success.
- Removal of the original tooth, if still necessary.
- Inserting the implant. This is a surgical procedure whereby the gum is opened, the implant is inserted into the jaw, and the gum is sewn shut.
- Osseointegration. The jaw bone grows around the implant and holds it firmly in place. This step can take several months before the implant is securely fused enough to support a restoration.
- Attaching the prosthetic.
The power of dental implants is that they can replace a single tooth by placing a crown on one implant, several teeth using an implant-supported bridge, or even an entire arch of teeth using a technique known as All-on-4. With All-on-4, as few as 4 dental implants are used to firmly anchor a full arch denture in place.
When you want a brighter smile or to just adjust your smile’s appearance without affecting functionality, you want cosmetic dentistry. When you need to restore a tooth’s function to be able to bite, chew, and even talk properly, that’s where you need restorative dentistry.
Get Expert Advice on Dental Restoration in Brisbane
We recommend that it’s always best to see your dentist if you have any concerns as delays in addressing your teeth can lead to further pain, complications and increased treatment cost.
If you’ve got sub-optimal teeth, or are worried about damage in your mouth, contact us today and book a consultation. We’d be only too happy to find the right treatment to restore your mouth to better health.