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When talking about dentistry, people always put on focus on the aesthetics. What people fail to realize though is that dentistry is still a part of health care and science. Being a part of it means that more than aesthetics, dentistry aims to bring back function.
Lost function from a lost part of the mouth, specifically the teeth, mean that is has to be restored. This is what dental restoration is all about. It’s about the science of bringing back what has been lost.
What are dental restorations?
Dental restorations are objects or materials that are meant to replace a missing portion of a part of a tooth or the tooth itself. This can be anything from a simple filling that is meant to replace tooth tissue that has been affected by decay, to any prosthesis that is meant to replace a missing tooth or teeth.
What are the different types of dental restorations?
The different types of restorations actually depend on the extent of tooth tissue lost due to decay. Small restorations may require the use of fillings, inlays, onlays, veneers or crowns. And above all: what is the patient’s wish?
If a tooth or teeth are lost though, this may require the creation of prostheses such as bridges or dentures.
Fillings are the most common type of restorations for teeth and are, probably, the most known ones.
When a tooth develops a cavity, it becomes necessary to remove infected tissue in order to prevent the further spread of decay. The hole created by the removal of infected tissue usually requires replacement with the use of fillings.
In the past, one of the more commonly used fillings was amalgam. This was made from a combination of metals, including mercury. Due to safety concerns, not to mention the ugly dark spot in the mouth, this filling is now rarely used.
Instead, tooth-colored fillings known as composite fillings are used nowadays. Although not as durable as amalgam, composite fillings have greatly improved through the years and can now last longer compared to composites of the past.
Besides the aesthetics, composite fillings are able to stick to the teeth without much need for tooth removal which makes them a great filling to use for preserving healthy tooth structure.
Another tooth-colored restorative material that is used, although not as commonly as composites, are glass ionomer fillings. These materials also contain fluoride which is released to the teeth when applied. They are used for certain types of cavities and they may also be used as an initial layer of filling, after which they are eventually covered with composites.
Onlays and Inlays
These are specially fabricated by the laboratory for teeth that have been greatly affected by decay. This used when the decay is too big that it can no longer be replaced by composites or even amalgam, but still with remaining healthy tissue, particularly enamel. Inlays and onlays are usually made from either metal – even gold – porcelain or resin.
A record of the tooth is taken after all decayed tissue is removed and sent to the lab as a guide for either the onlay or inlay to be fabricated. When the restoration is returned to the dental clinic, it is then fitted onto the patient’s tooth and cemented permanently to cover the hole that has resulted from decay.
These restorations, otherwise known as caps, are especially fabricated restorations for teeth that have been greatly affected by decay to the point that almost all of the enamel has been destroyed. In this case, much of the outer portion of the involved tooth is removed after which a record is taken and sent to a laboratory.
The returned restoration is supposed to cover the whole tooth so that it is restored back to its original shape and size. It is cemented onto the tooth, just like in the case of onlays and inlays.
Bridges and Dentures
These are generally termed as prostheses and are used to replace missing teeth.
Bridges are meant to replace one to three teeth, while dentures are used to replace a larger number of missing teeth. Bridges are also cemented permanently onto supporting teeth that are located besides the missing tooth, whereas dentures are removable. Bridges can be made from a number of materials such as metal and porcelain or even resin.
Dentures are usually made from resin material, porcelain, metal, or a combination of the said materials. There are different kinds of dentures designs and each of them have a specific use and purpose.
We can always give you recommendations as to what specific design and material will be best suited for you. We enjoy seeing a beautiful smile.