Traditional dental restoratives, or fillings, include gold, porcelain, and composite. The strength and durability of traditional dental materials make them useful for situations where restored teeth must withstand extreme forces that result from chewing, such as in the back of the mouth.
Newer dental fillings include ceramic and plastic compounds that mimic the appearance of natural teeth. These compounds, often called composite resins, are usually used on the front teeth where a natural appearance is important, but they can also be used on the back teeth depending on the location and extent of the tooth decay.
What's Right for Me?
Several factors influence the performance, durability, longevity and expense of dental restorations, including:
- The components used in the filling material
- The amount of tooth structure remaining
- Where and how the filling is placed
- The chewing load that the tooth will have to bear
- The length and number of visits needed to prepare and adjust the restored tooth
Before your treatment begins, your doctor will discuss with you all of your options and help you choose the best filling for your particular case. In preparation for this discussion it may be helpful to understand the two basic types of dental fillings — direct and indirect.
- Direct fillings are fillings placed immediately into a prepared cavity in a single visit. They include glass ionomers, resin ionomers, and composite (resin) fillings. The dentist prepares the tooth, places the filling, and adjusts it in one appointment.
- Indirect fillings generally require two or more visits. They include inlays, onlays, veneers, crowns, and bridges fabricated with gold, base metal alloys, ceramics, or composites. During the first visit, the dentist prepares the tooth and makes an impression of the area to be restored. The dentist then places a temporary covering over the prepared tooth. The impression is sent to a dental laboratory, which creates the dental restoration. At the next appointment, the dentist cements the restoration into the prepared cavity and adjusts it as needed.
Crowns are a cosmetic restoration used to strengthen a tooth or improve its shape. Crowns are most often used for teeth that are broken, worn, or partially destroyed by tooth decay.
Crowns are "cemented" onto an existing tooth and fully cover the portion of your tooth above the gum line. In effect, the crown becomes your tooth's new outer surface. Crowns can be made of porcelain, metal, or both. Porcelain crowns are most often preferred because they mimic the translucency of natural teeth and are very strong.
Crowns or onlays (partial crowns) are needed when there is insufficient tooth strength remaining to hold a filling. Unlike fillings which apply the restorative material directly into your mouth, a crown is fabricated away from your mouth. Your crown is created in a lab from your unique tooth impression which allows a dental laboratory technician to examine all aspects of your bite and jaw movements. Your crown is then sculpted just for you so that your bite and jaw movements function normally once the crown is placed.
We are your local CEREC dentist for single-visit tooth restorations. Why go to the dentist a second time if you don't have to?
What is CEREC?
CEREC is a technology for restoring damaged teeth, and this restoration can be completed in a single visit to the doctor's office. It makes your teeth stronger and more beautiful -- all while keeping your teeth looking natural. The restoration is metal-free and the high-grade ceramic material is compatible with the natural tissue found in your mouth.
The CEREC Process
During your appointment, you and your doctor will discuss the details of the procedure and your doctor will answer any questions you may have. Your doctor will then apply a thin layer of reflective powder onto your tooth and will use a special 3D imaging camera to take a photo of your tooth. Using CEREC's proprietary software, your restoration will be designed according to your tooth's appropriate form and function. Then, CEREC will use diamond burs to create your restoration out of a piece of ceramic. Finally, the ceramic restoration is bonded to your tooth using state-of-the-art adhesive dentistry.
Why Choose CEREC?
There are many advantages of CEREC over traditional crown technology.
Time: CEREC crowns are made in one visit, saving you considerable time away from your job and family.
Comfort: With CEREC, there is no need for a temporary crown, which eliminates significant potential discomfort.
Aesthetics: The strong, tooth-colored ceramic materials of CEREC restore your teeth to their natural strength, beauty, and function and closely match the composition of natural tooth structure.
Strength: Milled ceramic is stronger than the traditional method of layering and pressing, so your smile will stay beautiful for years!
Fillings: CEREC material and technology can also be used for fillings. Since they are made out of porcelain, they are more durable than white composite fillings.
Bonding is a conservative way to repair slightly chipped, discolored, or crooked teeth. During dental bonding, a white filling is placed onto your tooth to improve its appearance. The filling “bonds” with your teeth, and because it comes in a variety of tooth-colored shades, it closely matches the appearance of your natural teeth.
Tooth bonding can also be used for teeth fillings instead of amalgam fillings. Many patients prefer bonded fillings because the white color is much less noticeable than the silver amalgam fillings. Bonding fillings can be used on front and back teeth depending on the location and extent of tooth decay.
Bonding is less expensive than other cosmetic treatments and usually can be completed in one visit to our office. However, bonding can stain and is easier to break than other cosmetic treatments such as porcelain veneers. If it does break or chip, tell your doctor. The bonding generally can be easily patched or repaired in one visit.
Because we live longer and more stressful lives today, we are exposing our teeth to many more years of potentially damaging habits such as clenching, grinding, and chewing on hard objects.
These habits make our teeth more susceptible to cracks. Your endodontist may treat a cracked tooth to prevent further damage to the tooth structure and tissue.
Cracked teeth do not always show any visible signs of damage, but may present a variety of symptoms, including erratic pain when you chew with them and pain or sensitivity to heat and cold. In many cases, the pain may come and go, making it difficult for your doctor to locate the source.
Why Cracked Teeth Hurt
When the outer hard tissues of the tooth are cracked, chewing can cause movement of the pieces, and the pulp becomes irritated. When biting pressure is released, the crack can close quickly, resulting in a momentary, sharp pain. Irritation of the dental pulp can be repeated many times by chewing.
Eventually, the pulp will become damaged to the point where it can no longer heal itself. The tooth will not only hurt during chewing but may also become sensitive to extreme temperatures. In time, a cracked tooth may begin to hurt all by itself. Extensive cracks will lead to infection of the pulp tissue, even spreading to the bone and gum tissue that surround the tooth.
Types of Cracked Teeth
There are many different types of cracked teeth. The treatment and outcome for your tooth depends on the type, location, and extent of the crack.
Craze lines are tiny cracks that affect only the outer enamel. These cracks are extremely common in adult teeth. Craze lines are very shallow, cause no pain, and are of no concern beyond appearance.
When a cusp (the pointed part of the chewing surface) becomes weakened, a fracture sometimes results. The weakened cusp may break off by itself or have to be removed by the endodontist. When this happens, the pain will usually be relieved. A fractured cusp rarely damages the pulp, so root canal treatment is seldom needed. Your tooth will usually be restored with a full crown by your dentist.
Some cracks extend from the chewing surface of the tooth vertically toward the root. A cracked tooth may not be completely separated into two distinct segments. Because of the position of the crack, damage to the pulp is common. Root canal treatment is frequently needed to treat the injured pulp.
Your dentist will restore your tooth with a crown to hold the pieces together and protect the cracked tooth. At times, the crack may extend below the gingival tissue line, which requires extraction.
A split tooth is often the result of long-term progression of a cracked tooth. The split tooth is identified by a crack with distinct segments that can be separated. A split tooth cannot be saved intact. The position and extent of the crack, however, will determine whether a part of the tooth can be saved. In rare instances, endodontic treatment and a crown or other restoration by your dentist may be used to save a portion of the tooth.
Vertical Root Fracture
Vertical root fractures are cracks that begin in the root of the tooth and extend toward the chewing surface. They often show minimal signs and symptoms and may therefore go unnoticed until the surrounding bone and gum become infected. Treatment may entail extraction of the tooth. However, endodontic surgery is sometimes appropriate if a portion of the tooth can be saved by removal of the fractured root.
Preventing Cracked Teeth
While cracked teeth are not completely preventable, you can take some steps to make your teeth less susceptible to cracks.
- Don't chew on hard objects such as ice, unpopped popcorn kernels, or pens.
- Don't clench or grind your teeth.
- Wear a mouthguard or protective mask when playing contact sports.
Early diagnosis is important. Even with high magnification and special lighting, it can be challenging to determine the extent of a crack. A cracked tooth that is not treated will progressively worsen, and eventually result in the loss of the tooth. Early diagnosis and treatment are essential to saving these teeth.
A bridge may be used to replace missing teeth, help maintain the shape of your face, and alleviate stress on your bite.
A bridge replaces missing teeth with artificial teeth, looks great, and literally bridges the gap where one or more teeth may have been. Your bridge can be made from gold, alloys, porcelain, or a combination of these materials and is bonded onto surrounding teeth for support.
The success of any bridge depends on its foundation — the other teeth, gums, or bone to which it is attached. Therefore, it's very important to keep your existing teeth, gums, and jaw healthy and strong.
If you have missing teeth, it is crucial to replace them. Without all your teeth, chewing and eating can destabilize your bite and cause you discomfort. When teeth are missing, your mouth can shift and even cause your face to look older. Implants are a great way to replace your missing teeth and, if properly maintained, can last a lifetime!
An implant is a new tooth made of metal and porcelain that looks just like your natural tooth. It's composed of two main parts: One is the titanium implant body that takes the place of the missing root, and the second part is the tooth-colored crown that is cemented on top of the implant. With dental implants, you can smile confidently knowing that no one will ever suspect you have a replacement tooth.
In addition to tooth replacement, implants may be used to anchor dentures, especially lower dentures that tend to shift when you talk or chew. For patients with removable partial dentures, implants can replace missing teeth so that you have a more natural–looking smile.
Dentistry is all about smiles, and having a confident, healthy, beautiful smile is important even for patients wearing dentures. Our practice provides personalized denture services that meet the needs and comfort levels of our patients. All of our patients are unique and we create one-of-a-kind dentures that feel good and look natural.
What are Dentures?
Dentures are natural-looking replacement teeth that are removable. There are two types of dentures: full and partial.
- Full dentures are given to patients when all of the natural teeth have been removed. Conventional full dentures are placed after the gum tissue has healed, which can take several months. Immediate full dentures are placed immediately after the teeth have been removed and may require frequent adjustments during the first couple of months of use.
- Partial dentures are attached to a metal frame that is connected to your natural teeth and are used to fill in where permanent teeth have been removed. Partial dentures are considered a removable alternative to bridges.
How do I Know if Dentures are the Right Choice for Me?
Dentures are not for everyone. If you're interested in learning more about dentures and want to know if they are the right choice for you, please schedule an appointment. Our team will be happy to answer any questions you might have, and can determine the best course of treatment for your ongoing dental health.
Caring for Your Dentures
Dentures, just like natural teeth, require daily maintenance to stay clean and keep bacteria from growing inside of your mouth. Keep your dentures clean and your smile healthy:
- When handling your dentures, stand over a clean, folded towel or a sink full of water. This way, if you accidentally drop your dentures, they are less likely to break.
- Your dentures are not immune from plaque and tartar build-up, so it's important that you brush your dentures every day. To brush your dentures, use a soft-bristled brush and gently brush the surfaces of the dentures, being careful not to break or bend the plastic. Between brushings, it's important to rinse your dentures after each meal.
- Use a gentle cleanser to clean your dentures. Many toothpastes, household cleaners, and mouthwashes can be too hard on your dentures, so it is recommended that you use a mild hand or dish soap to get your dentures clean. Be sure to check for the American Dental Association (ADA) seal of approval to choose products that are safe for your dentures, or ask your dentist about which products may be best for you.
- When you are not wearing your dentures, they need to be kept moist. Dentures that are not kept in a denture cleaning solution or in water can dry out, lose their shape, or even crack and break. Certain styles of dentures require certain soaking solutions, so be sure to ask your dentist which solution is best for you.
- Even if you have a full set of dentures, it's important to keep your gums and tongue clean. Be sure to use a soft-bristled brush to gently clean your gums and tongue every day.
If by chance your dentures do break, please contact our practice and schedule an appointment as soon as possible. Broken dentures that don't fit properly can cause irritation to your gums and mouth. Also, remember to continue scheduling regular dental checkups every six months to make sure that your smile stays healthy for many years to come.