Tooth restoration describes any dental procedure done to repair a damaged or decayed tooth or to replace a missing tooth. The dental filling is arguably the best-known example of dental restoration. Other examples include implants, veneers, and crowns.
Remineralization is a process that strengthens the protective enamel on teeth to keep them from developing cavities. Saliva naturally helps the process by neutralizing the decay-causing acids produced by a combination of bacteria and sugars. Dentists will provide fluoride treatments during routine visits to help strengthen enamel. Patients can also strengthen their teeth by using fluoride toothpaste, practicing good dental hygiene, and not eating too many sugary foods. They should also get plenty of Vitamin D, for it can help prevent tooth decay.
Dental veneers are restorations that are placed on the front of the teeth. They are generally used to cover up stains, cracks, and chips, and they are typically made of porcelain. Getting a veneer usually requires two visits. During the first visit, the dentist will prepare the tooth by removing some of the enamel to ensure the veneer will fit properly and not stick out beyond the neighboring teeth. The dentist will take an impression of the teeth and send it to a dental lab that will fabricate the veneer. During the second visit, the dentist will place the veneer on the tooth and make sure it fits properly.
Dental fillings are the most common type of dental restoration, and they are generally used to repair a tooth that has suffered slight to moderate damage or decay. More severe cases of damage will require more extensive restorations like crowns. Fillings can be made of gold, silver, ceramic or composite resin. The dentist will use either lasers or metal tools to remove the decay. They will cement the filling in place.
Crowns are another common type of dental restoration. They are a cap that can cover the entire top surface of a badly damaged tooth. Crowns are also often used when a patient has undergone a root canal, and they can also be used to replace an old filling, especially if the patient has suffered more decay around the filling. Crowns are typically made of porcelain and getting one can take up to three visits. Machines like CEREC, however, enables some dentists to provide crowns in a single visit. A CEREC device has CAD/CAM (computer-aided design/computer-aided manufacturing) technology that enables the machine to take pictures of the patient’s teeth and fabricate a crown while they wait. The dentist will then place the crown on their tooth and make sure it fits.
Over the years, dentists have learned that missing teeth weakens the jawbone and neighboring teeth. They now try to save teeth whenever they can. Dental restorations help them do so.
By Meghan Belnap
who is a freelance writer who enjoys spending time with her family and residing in Oklahoma.