You have been trying to make it to the dentist every six months for a routine cleaning and check-up. However, life gets busy and those bi-annual dentist visits gets pushed to the back-burner. Now you go to the dentist not only for a cleaning and check-up, but also to have treatment done to restore and repair the health of your teeth and gums and bring back your beautiful smile.
What is Restorative Dentistry?
Unlike preventative dentistry that aims to preserve the health of a patient’s teeth and gums, restorative dentistry treats dental issues that have come up as a result of unhealthy teeth and gums or by trauma to the mouth. Restorative dentistry is more expensive and time-consuming than preventative dentistry.
Fillings. These traditionally have been made of amalgam metal that contains mercury. More dentists also now offer composite resin fillings that don’t contain potentially harmful mercury and which produce a more aesthetically pleasing appearance. Fillings are the most common treatment for small, isolated cavities on a tooth.
Crowns. These restorative dental restorations act as a protective covering for a tooth that has extensive, widespread decay. Crowns are toothlike in their size, shape and color so they blend into a patient’s natural smile. They are often made of composite resin or porcelain and are custom-made either in an off-site dental laboratory or onsite at the dental office using a CEREC machine.
Implants. Dental implants are placed where a tooth was either removed or had fallen out. Implants repair the ugly gaps in a patient’s smile due to a missing tooth. Dental implants are made of three parts: a titanium post that is inserted directly into the gums, an abutment and a toothlike crown that goes on top.
Bridges. These dental restorations perform the same thing as dental implants, but when there are multiple neighboring missing teeth. Instead of inserting multiple implants next to each other, the teeth on either side of the missing teeth are used to hold the crowns in place. For many bridges, the anchor teeth will also be fitted with a crown to provide a continuous, level row of connected crowns.
Inlays and Onlays. Dental inlays and onlays can be considered restorative or cosmetic dental procedures. Some general dentists will perform these procedures while in other situations, only cosmetic dentists will offer these services. It’s a good idea to ask your dentist about whether or not they do inlays and onlays. Both these procedures can be used to strengthen and restore teeth to their natural, healthy condition as well as enhance the look of one’s smile. Patients wanting to achieve the latter with inlays and onlays should seek the treatment of a cosmetic dentist.
Root scaling and planing. This restorative dental procedure involves repairing and strengthening one’s gums. Normal, healthy gums recede a few millimeters from the bottom of teeth. Gums that are diseased will pull away and recede further from the teeth, giving the teeth an elongated appearance. When gums recede more than normal, “pockets” between the gum and the surface of the tooth appear. It is in these “pockets” that germs, bacteria, and plaque can accumulate in. Root scaling and planing involves the careful, deep cleaning of these “pockets.” Some dental offices now offer an alternative gum treatment option that involves a tray and a specialized solution.
Preventative dentistry is the option for oral health, but restorative dental procedures are necessary should a dental issue come up. Restorative dentistry can help protect your smile from further damage and bring it back to its former, beautiful self.
If you notice something or feel pain and discomfort in your mouth, contact your dentist to schedule an appointment.