- Tooth Colored Fillings, which are called composite resins, are placed directly into the tooth immediately after the decay is removed. When they are put into the tooth they are like putty or paste and once the dentist has properly shaped the material, it is hardened by the use of a special light. They come in a variety of tooth-like colors or shades and can be made to match the color of almost any tooth. They are “bonded” into the tooth, which basically means they adhere to the tooth and this process of bonding helps make the tooth stronger.
- Silver Amalgam Fillings were once the standard filling material used in dental offices worldwide. Even though most people now prefer tooth colored fillings, there are situations in which silver amalgam is the appropriate choice. The material is metallic by nature and contains a combination of metals in different proportions. When the powder form of this metal combination is mixed with mercury it becomes softened and it can be packed into the cavity that has been created by removing the decay. While it is still soft the dentist shapes the material to “restore” the proper size and shape of the tooth and in a few minutes the material hardens on its own.
- Inlays are restorations that are hardened and shaped before they go into the tooth. This process involves taking an impression of the tooth and its neighboring teeth after the decay has been removed. The materials available for this process are gold, composite resin and ceramic. They are a stronger, longer lasting alternative to filling materials. They are cemented (glued) or bonded into the tooth once they are properly fitted.
- Onlays are a larger version of inlays. They simply restore a larger section of the tooth.
- Crowns are commonly referred to as “caps”. They are restorations that encircle the entire tooth as opposed to restoring just a section of it, which is what fillings, inlays, and onlays do. The materials and the processes used are the same as for inlays and onlays. There are reasons why a crown may be necessary at your appointment we will discuss with you why a crown may be recommended.
- Fixed Bridges are used to replace one or more missing teeth. Crowns are made for the teeth on either side of the missing tooth or teeth. Special crowns called pontics are made for the missing teeth and all of the crowns are connected into one piece and cemented in place. Once the bridge is cemented in place it is not removable and that is why it is called “fixed”.
- Dentures can be either full or partial. They are used to replace missing teeth just like fixed bridges, but they are removable. Full dentures are required when all of the teeth are missing in either the upper or lower jaw.