As we get older, many of us discover that our teeth that are no longer as structurally sound as they were in our youth. Your regular dentist will usually be able to recognise problem areas which may lead to tooth damage and a need for dental crowns.
Grinding your teeth, an improper bite, age, fillings and tooth decay are all contributing factors in the erosion, cracking or breakage of your teeth. If the entire surface of the tooth is damaged, but the root system has remained intact, your dentist will usually suggest that a dental crown be put in place.
Dental crowns are also capable of replacing missing teeth entirely. The dental crown is secured to the teeth on either side using a bridge section which connects the two dental crowns. Alternatively, single tooth dental implants can be placed. This eliminates the need for supporting the dental crowns so no bridge is required.
If a single spot on one of your teeth is not cleaned daily, the remaining bacteria will transform themselves into a sticky film substance called plaque. The plaque will produce acids which eat away at the enamel of the tooth and will eventually cause cavities. When the cavity gets through the enamel, into the underlying tooth structure (the dentin), repair or restoration is necessary. If there is sufficient tooth structure remaining after removal of all the caries, a filling is placed.
Composite fillings are the newest type of filling in common usage. They are composite resin that is bonded directly to the cavity preparation. Composite fillings were created as an alternative to traditional metal dental fillings. They are coloured to look like natural teeth and are more aesthetically pleasing than amalgam or gold fillings. They are also strong, durable, and make for a very natural looking smile.
Your dentist will give you a local anaesthetic to numb the area before preparing an access to the decayed area of the tooth and removing the decayed portions. A special dental material is then used to open up the pores of your tooth’s dentin and roughens up the surface of the exposed enamel. This creates a stronger bond between the tooth and the filling. The bond resin is applied to stick the composite to your tooth. This material is made of the same dental resin as the composite however it is much more fluid.
With a composite filling, your dentist will be able to preserve more of the natural tooth as the composite resin can be bonded to the tooth in thin layers and slowly built up to form a complete filling. A bright dental light will harden each layer before the next is applied.
A dental bridge is a false tooth which is fused between two porcelain crowns in order to replace a missing tooth. Each bridge is custom made to fill in the space. If spaces are left unfilled the surrounding teeth are liable to drift out of position. Furthermore, spaces from missing teeth can cause your other teeth and your gums to become far more susceptible to tooth decay and gum disease. If you have missing teeth and have good oral hygiene practices, you should discuss this procedure with our dentist.
There are three types of dental bridges:
Traditional Fixed Bridge
The false tooth is attached by the bridge to the two other teeth around the space – bridging them together. Unlike partial dentures, fixed bridges are set in place permanently and cannot be removed. This procedure is used to replace one or more missing teeth.
Resin Bonded Bridge
The resin bonded is normally used for your front teeth and requires less amount of preparation on the surrounding teeth. The false tooth is fused to metal bands that are bonded to the abutment teeth with a resin which is hidden from view. This type of bridge is less expensive than the others but the abutment teeth must be healthy.
If the gap is situated in the front of your mouth then a Cantilever bridge will be used. It will also be used when your teeth can only offer support on one side of the open space. The procedure involves anchoring the false tooth to one side over one or more natural and adjacent teeth.
An implant is used to replace missing teeth. An implant consists of a post which is inserted into the gums and an artificial tooth which attaches to the post.
Dental Implants are the modern way to replace missing teeth. They are durable, long lasting and made to appear as if they emerge naturally from the gum. Implants have the longest life and best success rate of any dental treatment.
A dental implant consists mainly of two parts, the ‘screw or post’ acting as the root of the tooth, and the crown. The implant ‘post’ is made of titanium which osseointegrates to the surrounding bone. The crown is then attached to the post.
Nowadays an implant-retained crown is virtually indistinguishable from a natural tooth.
Dentures are removable replacements for missing teeth. They are made out of an acrylic resin and normally porcelain or metal will be added for additional structural support. If your dentures are well looked after, you will have a very natural looking smile. Your dentures will also help strengthen muscles controlling your expressions and you will be free of any speech problems which were caused by missing teeth.
The procedure differs depending on the type of dentures you are having fitted. This is a simplified breakdown of the procedure for the placement of complete dentures:
More often than not, some teeth will have to be extracted. In some cases surgery is required to improve the bony ridges that stabilize your dentures.