Our hope is that preventative dental care is all you’ll ever need. We know, however, that at some point in their lives, most people will need restorative dentistry. The following is a list of the types of restorative dental care we offer to repair damage to your mouth. Dr. Rugeley will discuss with you the options available and his recommendations based on your needs.
Composite (Tooth Colored) Fillings
Composite fillings are resin (high density plastic) compounds that mimic the appearance of natural teeth. Composites are always used on the front teeth where a natural appearance is important and are often used on the back teeth depending on the location and extent of the tooth decay.
Amalgam (Silver) Fillings
Traditional dental restorations, or fillings, are the most familiar form of restorative dentistry and are often made of silver amalgam. The strength and durability of this traditional dental material makes it useful for situations where restored teeth must withstand extreme forces that result from chewing or grinding. In certain situations this can be the need in the back of the mouth.
Crowns are indirect restorations (fabricated outside the mouth) that covers a tooth that has experienced too much damage to support a filling. Crowns can also be used to protect a weak tooth from breaking or restore one that’s already broken. The process typically takes 2 visits that are approximately 2 weeks apart. In the interim period the patient has a temporary crown in place to secure this tooth and protect it from sensitivity.
There are multiple restorative dentistry procedures for replacing missing teeth. This includes fixed bridges, dental implants, removable partial dentures (RPD), complete dentures. In this area we will discuss the first two options and save the last two for another section below.
Implants also replace missing teeth with artificial teeth; however, the advantage over fixed bridges is that these restorations do not adhere to the adjacent teeth which conserve healthy tooth structure. They provide strong, predictable, long-term results that are both natural looking and highly functional. Implants can replace single or multiple teeth and they can even be used to help stabilize full or partial dentures.
Fixed bridges replace missing teeth with artificial teeth. These literally “bridge” the gap where one or more teeth used to be. Bridges can be made from gold, alloys, porcelain or a combination of these materials and are attached to surrounding teeth for support. They may also help restore chewing and speaking ability, maintain facial shape, and prevent movement of surrounding teeth.
Dentures and Partial Dentures
Dentures are natural-looking replacement teeth that are removable. There are two types of dentures: full and partial. Full dentures are given to restorative dentistry patients when all of the natural teeth have been removed while partial dentures are used when only a few teeth are missing. In this case a metal frame is designed to connect to your natural teeth and are used to fill in where permanent teeth have been removed. In some situations even dental implants can be used to help stabilize full or partial dentures.
Just like natural teeth, dentures need to be properly cared for. Use a gentle cleanser (i.e. denture cleaner, dish washing soap) to brush your dentures. Regular toothpaste can be too abrasive and dull the finish on your denture. Remember to always keep them moist when they’re not in use.
Root Canal Treatment
Another familiar restorative dentistry practice is root canal treatment (also referred to as root canal therapy or endodontic therapy). This treatment is made necessary when a cavity is allowed, through neglect, to reach all the way to this pulp. (Regular cleanings and checkups prevent and detect problems early.) Sometimes deep restorations or trauma to a tooth may cause the nerve to be damaged to the point it needs root canal therapy, also. Once this occurs the pulp becomes infected, and can even extend through the root tip and begin to eat away at the surrounding bone (this is an abscess). By the time the pulp is infected it must be treated, and cannot heal on its own. It can even weaken the entire immune system.
This is dangerous, not to mention very painful. Symptoms that the pulp has become infected may include sensitivity to hot/cold or sweets, pain, swelling, pain to biting or pressure, and a bad taste in the mouth. Sometimes, however, no symptoms are apparent and the person is unaware of any problem until a checkup.
TMJ stands for temporal-mandibular joint. Temporal, as in temple area of skull; mandibular as in mandible, or lower jaw; joint as in it’s where the head and jaw meet. Problems in this joint may be caused by a misalignment of the teeth, trauma, or excess muscle tension. Aside from the two bones that meet there, cartilage buffers them and five muscles are involved in the area. If something goes wrong a good deal of trouble can result.
Problems in this area can cause:
- Trouble/soreness in opening and closing the mouth
- Clicking or popping of the jaw
- Pain in the jaw muscles
- Soreness in the area, sometimes extending to the face
Restorative dentistry treatments for the condition can include replacing missing teeth, moving teeth, adjusting the bite, filling gaps between teeth, etc. There is no one solution that is right for all cases. Sometimes a plastic mouthpiece is used to prevent clenching or grinding that is contributing to the problem. If untreated and taken to extremes, surgery may be required to repair a badly damaged joint.