What Is Restorative Dentistry?
Restorative dentistry, also known as prosthodontic dentistry, can help a patient who has damaged or missing teeth, restore the overall health and aesthetics of their teeth. Whether from disease, injury, or other causes, receiving proper treatment for damaged or missing teeth is essential. This will help prevent further problems and help the patient with any difficulties eating or speaking.
Why would I need restorative dentistry?
Restorative dentistry, as the name implies, is necessary to restore function to your teeth and your overall oral health. Dr. Gill or Dr. Kenson may simply need to crown a tooth with a deep crack or place an inlay or onlay in a tooth with extensive decay. Or there may be more involved. A patient usually knows if he or she is in need of restorative treatment because their tooth/teeth or gums have likely started to be painful. Issues such as gum disease need to be addressed with restorative dentistry, as their continued progression will lead to tooth loss. In most cases, if a person opts to not have a restoration made to a damaged tooth or other oral health problem, the problem will become worse and will lead to higher costs and bigger problems.
How do teeth become damaged?
There are obvious causes — you tripped and knocked a tooth out, or you bit into a sandwich and something hard cracked or chipped your tooth. Having braces when you were young can sometimes lead to tooth trauma later on and that may dictate a root canal and a crown placed on the tooth.
Other problems are self-inflicted. Lackadaisical brushing and lack of flossing allows plaque and tartar to build on teeth, leading to decay and gum problems. When allowed to continue further, decay left untreated will lead to a tooth likely needing extraction, which will then need to be replaced with an implant or a bridge.
We can damage our teeth subtly, as well, by doing things such as chewing ice or opening bottles with our teeth. Even chewing your fingernails can damage the teeth over time.
What happens if I don’t replace a missing tooth?
Some people put off replacing a tooth that has needed to be extracted or was lost due to trauma, but this is a bad idea. Here’s why.
- Teeth need pressure on each side from adjacent teeth otherwise they tend to move. This is what happens with a missing tooth, as the adjacent teeth slide over to fill the gap. This creates problems with your alignment and bite.
- Chewing and biting involve a great deal of energy down into the tooth. This energy is transferred through the tooth down into the jawbone, stimulating the jawbone to continually regenerate new bone mass. This is key to a healthy, strong, jawbone. Without that energy coming down through the tooth, the jawbone in that area begins to deteriorate and resorb.
- Missing teeth can be embarrassing visually, and can also create whistling sounds when pronouncing certain words. And missing molars can create problems with chewing, making the person avoid certain foods, which can cause nutritional deficiencies.
Dental Restoration Candidates
You may be a good candidate for restorative dental procedures if you have:
- Chipped or cracked teeth
- Missing teeth
- Eroded enamel
- Low bone density
- Gum disease
The best way to know if you are a good candidate for restorative dentistry is to see Dr. Gill or Dr. Kenson for a consultation. They will be able to tell right away which procedures are best suited for your specific needs.
What Is The Difference Between Cosmetic and Restorative Dentistry?
Cosmetic and restorative dentistry procedures often overlap each other. Both forms of dentistry utilize dental implants, bonding, and crowns. The main difference between the two forms of dentistry is what the main focus of the procedure is. With cosmetic dentistry, the dentist will go above and beyond simply restoring the tooth until they’ve created the perfect smile for their patient. Restorative dentistry, however, is more practical. This means that the dentist will focus on ensuring that the patient ends up with a set of healthy, restored, and functional teeth. Finally, the cost of cosmetic treatments is often much higher than the cost of restorative treatments. Many restorative procedures are covered by insurance policies, whereas cosmetic procedures, often, are not.
Restorative Dental Procedures
At our practice, we have several restorative dentistry options available. Which ones we use depends on the patient’s oral health, preference, and recommendation by Dr. Gill or Dr. Kenson. Each of these methods have their own benefits, For a complete full-mouth restorations, we may combine multiple treatments. Our restorative treatments include:
- Full and partial dentures
- Crowns and bridges
- Dental implants
- Mini dental implants
- Inlays and onlays
- Full-mouth reconstruction
In the past, dental cavities were filled with a mixture of metal alloys, also known as amalgam. Today, tooth-colored or composite fillings are a mixture of resin, glass or quartz and porcelain ceramics. These materials are resilient and long lasting. These fillings are colored to match the patient’s teeth and are practically invisible to the untrained eye. For aesthetic and/or medical purposes, these tooth-colored fillings can be used to replace old and worn dental amalgam, gold or other metal fillings.
While composite fillings have visual advantages, over time they can become discolored. Just like metal fillings, tooth-colored fillings can be set and cured in one visit to the dentist.
Tooth-colored fillings are priced similarly to metallic alloy. They are not as long-lasting as amalgam fillings, and may chip in certain locations of the mouth. The dentist will discuss filling material options for the cavity and recommend options based on the patient’s medical and aesthetic needs.
Veneers are very thin, tooth-colored shells of ceramic that are custom-fit and bonded to the front of the teeth. They can create a white, even, and attractive smile. Veneers make it possible to correct a variety of problems, including:
- Spaces between the teeth
- Chipped teeth
- Yellowing or stains
- Misshapen or crooked teeth
- Small holes or pits in teeth
- Uneven or undersized teeth
A veneer placed on top of a tooth can quickly and easily help achieve a beautiful smile. Although some veneers are designed to be removable, most are permanent and are bonded very tightly to the tooth they are protecting. The advancements in technology have improved bonding agents to the point where some types of veneers may last for 20 years or more.
Porcelain Dental Crowns
Dr. Gill and Dr. Kenson use porcelain crowns to bring strength and beauty to your teeth while also improving their function. Crowns may be used to fix a number of problems, including but not limited to:
- Broken or fractured teeth
- Worn teeth
- Mishaped teeth
- Decayed teeth
It will take two visits to our office to place your porcelain crown. The first visit will be used to take impressions and photos of your teeth. The second visit will take place after the crowns come back from the lab and are ready to be placed. With proper hygiene, porcelain crowns can last decades.
Bridges are used to replace missing teeth to prevent the others from moving into the gap. Dental bridges are a single prosthetic consisting of false teeth to fill the gap and crowns for the adjacent teeth.
Dental implants are also used to replace missing teeth but involved the use of a crown, bridge, or dentures to provide the replacement for the actual tooth. Implants provide strength for the missing tooth as they are drilled directly into the jaw bone to resemble the root. After the implant is placed, it must fuse with the bone before applying the crown, bridge, or dentures. By doing so, you receive long-lasting support of the tooth.
I need full-mouth reconstruction. How long will that take?
Full-mouth reconstruction is an involved process that may require up to a full year to complete. Obviously, your timeframe depends on your unique situation. For instance, if we need to replace teeth with dental implants, those implants take up to six months to place and allow the jawbone to grow around the implants. If orthodontic movement is required, that takes time. Once Dr. Gill or Dr. Kenson understand what is needed to fully restore your oral health, they can give you a good idea of the time it will take to do so.
Will my teeth need to be pulled if they are damaged?
At Golden Dental Solutions, we view extraction as a last resort. If a tooth has extensive decay that encompasses too much of the tooth to place a filling, we may be able to place an inlay or onlay and save it. Crowns are “tooth savers,” as they return strength to a compromised tooth that would otherwise merit extraction. We try to avoid pulling a tooth whenever possible, but if we do have to remove an extensively damaged tooth replacing it with a dental implant is a great solution.
Caring for Restored Teeth
Too many people believe that once a tooth is restored, it does not require the same care as untreated teeth. Unfortunately, this is not true. Maintaining a daily oral hygiene routine of brushing at least twice a day and flossing at least once a day can help patients ensure that all teeth remain healthy, especially the restored ones. Patients who do not take care of their teeth risk the failure of their dental restorations. Be sure to ask Dr. Gill or Dr. Kenson how to best maintain your teeth after a restorative procedure.
Schedule a consultation
If you think you are a good candidate for restorative dental procedures, call (303) 277-9600 to schedule a consultation. Our practice serves patients from Denver, Arvada, Golden and surrounding areas.