Restorative dentistry refers to how we replace missing or damaged teeth, and the procedures and treatment options that this may include. From one-day crowns via CEREC® technology to tooth-colored fillings, silver amalgam fillings, inlays, onlays, fixed bridges, dentures and more, here is everything you need to know about restorative dentistry.
Tooth Colored Fillings
In restorative dentistry, you may hear tooth colored fillings also referred to as composite resins. These fillings, or resins, are placed directly into the tooth immediately after the decay has been removed. When they’re put into the tooth, they act like putty or paste; then, once the dentist has properly shaped the material, it is hardened by the use of a special light. Tooth colored fillings are available in a variety of tooth-like colors and shades, and can be designed to match the color of almost any tooth. These fillings are “bonded” into the tooth, which basically means that they adhere to your tooth to help make it stronger.
Silver fillings are also used in restorative dentistry. In fact, these were once the standard filling material used in dental offices worldwide. Even though most people now prefer fillings that are tooth colored, there are instances when silver amalgam is the appropriate choice. A silver filling 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 softens and 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. After a few minutes, the material hardens on its own.
Inlays & Onlays
An inlay is a restoration that is hardened and shaped before it goes into your tooth. In this type of restorative dentistry, the process involves taking an impression of your tooth and its neighboring teeth once the decay has been removed. The materials available for this process are gold, composite resin and ceramic. These options offer a stronger, longer lasting alternative to filling materials and are bonded into the tooth once they have been properly fitted. An onlay is a larger version of an inlay that restores a larger section of the tooth.
In this type of restorative dentistry, a crown is used to encircle your 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. At HDG, we use a digital process called CEREC® (Chairside Economical Restoration of Esthetic Ceramics), which allows us to fabricate crowns, inlays, onlays and some veneers without having to send cases to a dental laboratory. Through CAD-CAM technology right in our office, we can often produce & insert the restoration in the same day.
In restorative dentistry, fixed bridges are used to replace one or more missing teeth. The process involves making crowns for the teeth on either side of the missing tooth or teeth. Then, special crowns called “pontics” are made specifically for the missing teeth. Once this is done, all of the crowns are connected into one piece and cemented in place. When the bridge has been cemented in place, it is not removable, which is why it’s called a “fixed” bridge.
Dentures are available in both full and partial options. This type of restorative dentistry is used to replace missing teeth just like fixed bridges, with one major difference: they ARE removable. Partial dentures are used when you’re missing only a few teeth; whereas full dentures are required when all of the teeth in either your upper or lower jaw are missing.
Have questions about restorative dentistry? Contact us – we’re here and happy to answer any and all of your dental health questions!