Fillings are used to restore tooth damage caused by tooth decay. After removing the decay and cleaning the area the dentist adds filling material. Fillings are made from traditional amalgam (silver colored) or a composite (tooth colored). Composite fillings, in addition to being more aesthetically pleasing, bond directly to the tooth surface unlike traditional fillings.
Dental bonding is composed of a ceramic resin that is brushed onto the tooth and hardened with intense light. Prior to bonding application the tooth surface must be prepared to accept the bonding. This is accomplished by roughening the tooth surface and applying a gel to micro-etch the surface. A primer agent is then applied so the bond will adhere properly.
Dental bonding is used for:
- Repairing tooth decay damage
- Improve tooth alignment
- Fill gaps between teeth
- Cosmetic reasons (improve tooth appearance)
Crowns are used to restore severely damaged teeth due to fracture or decay. After the tooth surface is cleaned and prepared the crown is placed to cover the remainder of the tooth. The crown strengthens the tooth structure and helps prevent future decay. Crowns also improve the tooth's look, shape, and alignment.
Bridges are used to replace a missing tooth in both a cosmetic and functional fashion. A bridge structure is one or more artificial teeth anchored in place by natural teeth, crowns, or implants, on each side of the bridge. Using a bridge to fill the gap from missing teeth helps restore proper bite and prevent teeth from shifting to fill the gap (which may lead to additional bite and jaw joint issues). Bridges can be constructed from gold, porcelain and metal, or all ceramic. Ceramic bridge color is made to match your natural tooth color. Material choice will depend on structural requirements, wear, and aesthetics.
Implants may be the best option for replacing a single or multiple missing teeth. Implants provide superior benefits compared to bridgework as they do not depend on neighboring teeth for structural support. Implants are the closest dental structure in durability to natural teeth and have greater cosmetic appeal.
A root canal becomes needed when tooth decay is so badly neglected it reaches the tooth pulp. Once the pulp is infected it cannot heal on its own. Sometimes tooth trauma such as a fracture can lead to the need for a root canal as well. In addition to being painful, untreated infections can reach the root tip and compromise the entire immune system. Symptoms of pulp infections may be:
- Sensitivity to hot/cold
- Sensitivity to sweets
- Pain, especially when biting
- Bad taste in the mouth
A root canal procedure includes cleaning out the infected pulp, disinfecting the canals and filling the void with a rubber like substance to prevent further infection. Sometimes a crown is recommended to restore the tooth shape, look, and to strengthen the tooth structure.