Dental restorations are as versatile as they are useful. They can fix a wide variety of issues; from cosmetic imperfections to tooth loss and everything in between. By definition, dental restorations restore teeth that are damaged in some way or another. That said, some restorations go so far as to double as replacement teeth.
This article explores categories of tooth restorations and their applications.
Common problems that dental restorations correct
A healthy tooth has intact enamel. This hard outer covering protects the inner tooth from pressure, temperature, chemicals, and infection. A breach of the enamel or the gums exposes the inner tooth to infection and other things that could harm it.
This is where dental restorations come in. They repair any damage to the outer tooth, which in effect protects the inner tooth.
Dentists spend much of their time installing dental restorations to fix the following problems:
- Cavities and tooth decay
- Dead teeth
- Broken and fractured teeth
- Extensive damage to the outer structure of the teeth
- Missing teeth
Dentists also use restorations to hide superficial flaws like stains or small chips. Often, a restoration serves the double purpose of repair and the upgrade of a patient’s smile. Here are the most common types of tooth restorations.
Direct and indirect fillings
Dentists spend large chunks of their time filling cavities and correcting tooth decay. They use direct fillings to repair small cavities. Direct fillings are metallic or tooth-colored substances with a putty-like consistency. A dentist will apply a filling directly onto a problem tooth and use a curing light to solidify the putty.
Indirect fillings work a little differently. A dentist takes a mold of the hole in their patient’s tooth and requests a dental restoration based on that mold. Once the indirect filling is fabricated, the dentist installs it onto the tooth with the hole. Examples of indirect fillings are onlays, inlays, and overlays. They come in a variety of materials like metal, porcelain or composite resin.
Veneers and dental bonding
Dental bonding can fill cavities and cover up imperfections like minor chips and cracks. Veneers are thin, wafer-like shells that take the shape of a tooth. They are great for covering intrinsic stains, chipped teeth, or slight dental misalignment.
A crown or dental cap is a restoration that covers a tooth from tip to base. Dentists recommend crowns for teeth with severe structural damage. In many cases, a crown is the only type of restoration that can save a tooth from extraction. This is why dentists use them to correct severe tooth decay or injury. Patients with failed root canal treatment are also candidates for dental caps.
Dental crowns also replace missing teeth. They can sit on top of a dental implant, where they play the roles of a natural tooth.
Crowns serve a dual purpose of repair and cosmetic enhancement of teeth.
Bridges and partial dentures
A dental bridge is a restoration that replaces a missing tooth. Usually, a bridge relies on the teeth on either side of the gap for support. If the gap in the patient’s mouth is a result of multiple missing teeth, the dentist may decide to anchor the bridge with implant-supported crowns.
A bridge that replaces several teeth is also considered as a set of partial dentures.
A healthy set of teeth makes life better
If you need a dental restoration to improve the look and function of your teeth, reach out to a dentist. They will use their years of experience to come up with a treatment plan that works for you.