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Restorative Dentistry Overview

What is restorative dentistry?

Restorative dentistry refers to dental procedures that restores the function, appearance, and health of a tooth.  Unlike cosmetic dentistry that is done solely for appearance, restorative dentistry is often highly recommended or necessary for your health.  Such restorative dental procedures include dental crowns and bridges, fillings, root canals, dentures, dental implants, and more.

What are the benefits of restorative dentistry?

Restorative dentistry provides many key oral health benefits, which is why they are commonly performed procedures by dentists.

  • Restore function. Compromised and damaged teeth lead to host of painful and costly problems.  The most important benefit of restorative dental procedures is that the functionality of your teeth is restored. 
  • Resolve pain. If you have a severely infected tooth that requires a root canal, you have probably experienced extreme pain. Restorative procedures eliminate that pain by correcting the problem or removing the infection.
  • Look better. Restorative procedures can make improve your teeth’s appearance so you can smile with confidence.
  • Prevent dental problems. Treating a dental problem early prevent it from getting worse or causing other problems. Having a cavity filled as soon as your dentist notices it can prevent it from leading to a root canal.  Waiting too long may lead to unnecessary tooth loss.
  • Preserve jaw bone. Replacing a missing tooth with a dental implant preserves the bone density in your jaw. If a tooth is missing, the part of the jaw that once held it in place will start to weaken and eventually dissolve. After that, in order to replace it with an implant, a bone graft procedure will be required. It is best to replace a missing or decaying tooth right away to minimize bone loss.

What are restorative dental procedures?

Here are a few restorative dental procedures:

  • Fillings – This is by far the most common restorative dental procedure. When bacteria burrows into your tooth and creates a hole, it needs to be restored to protect the soft vital pulp inside. In a cavity-filling procedure, the dentist will remove the damaged and affected part of the tooth and restore the loss tooth structure with composite material that is the same color as your tooth. This filling will seal the tooth from future bacterial invasion.
  • Root canals – A root canal procedure may be required when a bacteria manages to tunnel itself in the soft vital pulp within a tooth.  Sometimes a root canal is needed after an injury to the tooth. Usually the reason for a root canal is that the inside of the tooth is infected, which entails that the nerve is infected and possibly the bone and ligament holding that tooth is also infected. During a root canal procedure, the dentist will clean out all of the soft pulp from inside the tooth and the root canal, rinse out the infection, and replace and seal the space inside the tooth with gutta percha (sealing material).
  • Crown – When a tooth becomes damaged in some way, whether from severe decay or a crack or break in the tooth, it can be reinforced with a crown (otherwise known as a cap). In a crown placement procedure, the top part of the tooth is reduced minimally and the crown is placed over the top. The crown looks and functions just like your natural tooth.
  • Bridge – A dental bridge is an artificial tooth that is suspended between two crowns. Sometimes a bridge consists of a row of multiple teeth. The bridge is held in place by crowns placed over the existing teeth on either side of the bridge, or by dental implants. 
  • Dentures – If you don’t have enough healthy teeth in your mouth to function properly, dentures are a replacement option. Normally dentures consist of an entire arch of teeth. Removable dentures can be attached to the gums via suction. Implant supported dentures (also known as snap-on dentures) are held in place by a few dental implants placed in the jaw.
  • Dental implants – If you have a tooth that is missing or needs to be extracted due to severe decay or damage, it can be replaced with a dental implant. A dental implant is a complete artificial tooth and root system. The implant root is made of titanium, a biocompatible metal that integrates with the jaw bone to form a solid hold. The root is surgically placed in the jaw and a crown is attached to the top. The whole implant looks and functions just like a natural tooth, which is why it is considered to be the best tooth replacement option. Dental implants can also function as anchors for bridges and dentures.

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This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.