Dental fillings are one of the most common types of restorative treatments, used to improve the appearance and functionality of teeth affected by damage or decay.
The filling materials, which can be made from several different substances, help to even out tooth surfaces for more efficient biting and chewing. These restorations can last for many years and help keep the tooth looking and functioning at its best.
Composite fillings are made of a glass or quartz filler within a resin medium that produces a tooth-colored material. Also known as filled resins, composites are often used in small to mid-size restorations, as they provide strength, durability, and resistance to fracture. In addition, the shade of composite fillings is made to closely match the patient’s actual teeth, so that other people will not be aware that dental work has been done.
A major advantage to choosing porcelain crowns is their ability to be created to look exactly like the teeth they are replacing, or an even more aesthetically-pleasing version. Porcelain crowns are available in a wide variety of shades in order to perfectly color-match them to your existing teeth. This will provide the most natural look, so there is little evidence that you have undergone any dental work at all. Because they are the most cosmetically attractive, they are usually used for the front teeth.
All-porcelain crowns are also a much better choice for anyone with a metal allergy. Since they contain no form of metal at all, the wearer should experience no adverse reactions.
Porcelain crowns are generally durable and long lasting. They require no more care than the rest of your teeth-just a simple regimen of regular brushing and flossing. However, if you tend to grind your teeth or clench your jaw during sleep, you may require fitting for a mouth guard to prevent the excess pressure from causing your crown to crack.
As people age, their teeth often tend to decay and weaken at an increasing pace. The act of chewing imposes significant crushing and shearing forces on the teeth, which exacerbates the situation. In many cases, dentists may have to resort to reconstructive (or restorative) dentistry to maintain proper function of the mouth. Fortunately, there are options for replacing lost teeth.
Dental bridges are natural-looking tooth replacements that help maintain facial structure, reduce stress on the jaw and fill in the gaps caused by missing teeth. They work by attaching the artificial teeth to adjacent natural teeth, called abutment teeth. Bridges can either be permanently attached (known as fixed bridges) or removable.
Fixed bridges are used to replace one or more missing teeth. The procedure involves creating a crown for the tooth or implant on either side of the missing tooth, with a pontic (false tooth) in between. Removable bridges are often more affordable and more convenient than permanently fixed structures while offering nearly the same support and reliability. They are held in place with metal clasps or precision attachments.
The healthiest thing to do when you lose a tooth is have it replaced. Otherwise, you risk problems with biting, chewing and speaking, headaches, muscle pain and an unattractive appearance. A full mouth of teeth is essential for many daily functions, from eating comfortably to speaking clearly. Damaged and missing teeth can also lead to other dental conditions such as gum disease, infection and further tooth loss.
Instead of waiting the typical period of several months for bone growth at the extraction site, sometimes immediate implant placement is preferable, allowing the bone to grow around the new implant. This eliminates the need for a second procedure. However, immediate placement may not be an option if there is significant bone loss in the area or the extraction was due to a serious infection.
Implant Crowns / Custom Abutments
Dental implants are used in solutions for replacing single or multiple missing teeth. They are designed to give you the strength, stability, resilience, and support of your natural teeth.
Dental implants are replacements for both the root and the tooth that are made to provide the support that is needed in your mouth. The implants are placed surgically in the upper and lower jawbone of your teeth. When attached, they will look and feel like natural and enhance and restore your smile.
Custom Abutment vs. Stock Abutment
An abutment is the portion of a dental implant that attaches to the prosthetic, anchoring it firmly in place. An abutment can be either customized for the patient’s unique mouth or chosen from an array of prefabricated stock options. Both custom and stock abutments offer variety, and the type selected will depend on the specific needs of a patient.
Stock abutments are created with a range of finishes from an assortment of dental materials and are available in diverse angulations. Therefore, stock abutments are adequate for use in many restorations. It will often depend on whether there are enough bone and soft tissue present at the site, as well as sufficient spacing to position the implant in an optimal way.
For patients who do not meet these criteria, though, custom abutments provide a means to a secure, well-fitted implant. They are completely individualized, created to suit the specifics of that particular patient’s mouth. Custom abutments are designed and shaped into the perfect contour, depth, and angle for the space available. Some custom abutments are made of titanium due to its strength, while others are made of zirconia in order to exactly match the shade of the nearby teeth or gum tissue.
Locator Retained Partials and Dentures
Implant-retained dentures provide an advanced alternative to traditional denture placement, as they are secured in the mouth using titanium implant posts, providing greater strength and stability for the replacement teeth. This technique allows patients with dentures to easily speak and eat without worrying about their dentures slipping out of place. Implants help dentures function just like the patient’s natural teeth.
Implants are placed in the jawbone during the initial appointment and then fuse to the bone over a period of five to seven months, at which point the tops of the implant are exposed and the dentures are placed. Implants are usually placed in the front of the mouth, where there is more bone support. Patients can still choose between fixed or removable dentures to best accommodate their preferences and life.
After the implants and dentures are placed, patients will see their dentist for regular cleanings, just like they would for their natural teeth. The dentures will provide years of service as a strong, natural-looking tooth replacement option. Most patients choose implant-retained dentures over the traditional techniques for their many benefits.
Dentures and Partials
Patients who have lost their natural teeth due to decay, periodontal disease or injury may suffer from related problems including further decay, difficulty eating and speaking, and drooping of facial muscles. Full and partial dentures replace the missing teeth both aesthetically and functionally, providing support and restoring the smile. Full (complete) dentures are used when all of the natural teeth have been lost, while partial dentures fill in the gaps between natural teeth. The gums, dentures and any remaining natural teeth will need to be cleaned regularly to prevent staining, sores and plaque build-up.
Root Canal Therapy
Root canals can prevent tooth loss when there is damage to the soft core of the tooth (the pulp). Despite its reputation as a painful ordeal, a root canal is actually not very uncomfortable. During the procedure, the damaged pulp is removed, the root canal is cleaned and sealed off, and a crown is bonded to the tooth to maintain strength.
Temporomandibular Joint Disorders (TMD/TMJ)
Chronic facial pain — pain in or around the ear, tender jaw, clicking or popping noises when opening the mouth, headaches and neck aches — may arise from many easily identifiable and treatable causes, including a sinus infection, tooth decay or gum disease. But sometimes the source is more elusive, and it may be TMD, a group of often painful disorders affecting the jaw and chewing muscles. Common causes of TMD include:
- Trauma to the head or neck
- Oral habits such as clenching or grinding of the teeth
- “Bad” bite or missing teeth
- Malalignment of the upper and lower jawbones
Treatment of your temporomandibular joint disorder may range from conservative medical care to complex surgery. Your treatment may include short term care such as pain medication, muscle relaxation, bite plate or splint therapy and, at times, stress reduction counseling.
A dental splint is a device that can be used to stabilize loose teeth or protect the teeth from damage in patients with TMJ, snoring and sleep apnea. Splints can be worn all the time for a designated treatment period, or while sleeping for long-term care of snoring and sleep apnea.
If non-surgical treatment is unsuccessful or if there is joint damage, surgery may be indicated. Surgery can involve from the least invasive, arthrocentesis, to arthroscopy or open joint surgery.
Bruxism is a term referencing the grinding and clenching of teeth, responsible for causing temporomandibular joint problems over long periods of time, as well as wearing down the teeth. Other symptoms include:
- Sore/painful jaw
- Earache (due to close proximity to joint)
- Depression, anxiety, and stress
The sound of bruxism is often loud enough to wake sleeping partners.
A splint or mouth guard may be utilized to prevent the teeth from actually coming into contact with one another, thereby preventing the grinding while unconscious.