In a perfect world, all we would have to do is brush and floss twice daily to keep our teeth and gums healthy. We wouldn’t ever have to worry about needing invasive and costly dental work because we wouldn’t ever have any dental issues like cavities or gum disease.
However, we do not live in a perfect world. Tooth decay and gum disease happen, as do accidents that lead to the loss of permanent teeth. Luckily, we have the practice of restorative dentistry to bring teeth back to their functional form and then some.
Keep reading to learn more about restorative dentistry.
What Exactly Is Restorative Dentistry?
Restorative dentistry essentially refers to any dental procedure that replaces or repairs teeth to restore their overall appearance and function.
The goal of restorative dental procedures is to restore your teeth to their natural shape, feel, and look by:
- Repairing damage caused by inadequate dental fillings
- Repairing damage caused by poorly applied bonding treatment
- Restoring missing parts of a tooth’s structure via direct or indirect restorations — i.e., inlays, onlays, fillings, or crowns
- Replacing teeth that are completely missing via artificial restorations, including implants, bridges, or dentures
It’s important to note that restorative dentistry isn’t one single branch of dental care. It revolves around multiple dental fields, including:
Having said that, most people that require restorative dental work also require multifaceted care. In other words, depending on your individual circumstances, you may need to seek treatment from more than just one specialist. Of course, the end result is having a fully-functional mouth or set of teeth that allow you to carry on through your day eating, drinking, and talking as usual.
Who Is Restorative Dentistry For?
It’s a common assumption that restorative dentistry applies to the elderly (who are usually associated with dentures) or anyone who has experienced a severe mishap that damages the teeth or jaws — Such as professional athletes in contact sports. However, restorative dentistry is for anyone who:
- Is experiencing cavities or tooth decay
- Has damaged or broken teeth
- Is missing teeth
Therefore, the need for dental restorations can crop up at any age and for a multitude of reasons. The age groups that require restorative dental procedures the most are between ages 11 and 12 and ages 50 and 52.
The reasons can also range from a simple lack of proper oral care to underlying diseases. Depending on the extent of the damage and the reason for the damage, your dentist or oral specialist will recommend a specific restorative solution to suit your needs.
How Does Restorative Dentistry Differ From Cosmetic Dentistry?
Restorative and cosmetic dentistry — also referred to as aesthetic dental procedures — are often seen as interchangeable as they follow many of the same material usage and procedural codes. However, they each have a very specific purpose that differentiates them:
- Restorative dental procedures are required due to disease, decay, or accidents and are, therefore, medically necessary
- Cosmetic dental procedures are elective, as they aim to improve the appearance of a person’s smile or self-image
A good example of cosmetic dentistry is teeth whitening or veneers. These treatments are considered cosmetic as they’re not medically necessary. There are some instances in which veneers can be medically necessary; however, they’re typically used to improve one’s appearance, and therefore, they fall into the elective category.
What Are the Various Types of Restorative Dentistry?
The most common types of restorative dental procedures include:
- Inlays and onlays
Let’s take a closer look:
Dental crowns are tooth-shaped caps that either come as metal or tooth-colored. They’re designed to replace substantial missing tooth structures that are caused by dental decay, fractures, or root canals.
To determine whether a dental crown is the right restorative procedure for you, your dentist will take into consideration the following:
- The regular function of the specific tooth or teeth
- The location of the tooth
- Positioning of gum tissue
- The color of the surrounding teeth
- Your overall dental health and general health
Dental fillings are most commonly used on teeth with minor to moderate cavities or root canals. When you have a cavity, your dentist will drill to remove the affected part of the tooth and fill the holes with a filling made of one of the following materials:
- Tooth-color plastic and glass materials
- Silver amalgam
These same dental fillings are used for root canals, with the only difference being that during a root canal, all of the soft pulp from the root is completely removed. Once the area is rinsed and filled, the tooth will be structurally safe and can no longer become infected or decayed.
Fillings can also be used to repair cracked, worn, or broken teeth, depending on the extent of the damage. It should also be noted that since fillings are used to treat cavities and some trauma-related dental conditions, the procedure may be partially or fully covered by your dental insurance.
Dental bridges are considered “full coverage restorations” as they typically cover three or more teeth. However, while they cover a certain quantity of teeth, they only replace one or two teeth as the real teeth are used to “bridge the gap” on either side of the missing tooth or teeth.
Dental bridges are mostly used for:
- Teeth that have been extracted
- Congenitally missing teeth
While dental bridges are more affordable compared to implants — and with a much quicker recovery time — they don’t have a natural look to them. They’re also more prone to damage from fracturing or decay compared to implants.
Dentures are prosthetic teeth designed to replace multiple missing teeth. They can be either removable or fixed, and they’re always customized to fit each individual’s mouth.
There are five different types of dentures to fit different oral situations:
- Complete dentures
- Fixed partial dentures
- Removable partial dentures
- Immediate dentures
- Implant-retained dentures
Dentures are the standard solution for people that have lost all of their teeth — usually from gum disease or advanced dental decay in the later stages of their lives.
Inlays and Onlays
Inlays and onlays are partial tooth restorations that either come in gold or tooth-colored. Onlays cover the cusp of the tooth, while inlays fill the areas between the cups.
They’re designed to restore the smaller areas of missing or damaged tooth structure, and they’re less invasive compared to full dental caps.
Dental implants refer to the artificial tooth root that’s surgically implanted into the jaw bone. They
are commonly used to replace adult permanent teeth, usually after an extraction or tooth loss caused by decay or gum disease.
Essentially, dental implants mimic the shape of a screw, which is what allows them to be integrated with the natural bone. From there, the replacement tooth is attached and will function like a natural tooth.
Dental bonding is a procedure that utilizes composite resins, which are tooth-colored fillings made from glass and plastic. Dental bonding is typically used for the following:
- To fill cavities
- Repair cracked and chipped teeth
- To cover discolored teeth that cannot be fixed by whitening applications
- To fill small, unwanted gaps between teeth
There are different dental bonding treatments available based on the various dental needs, including:
- Indirect dental bonding
- Composite veneer bonding
- Composite bonding
Dental bonding is also often a practical application for individuals with diastemas.
Are There Any Risks Associated with Restorative Dentistry?
One of the most common concerns with any restorative dental procedure is whether or not there are any risks involved. Generally speaking, dental restorations come with very few risks — the most common being some discomfort and sensitivity after the procedure.
It’s very rare that an infection or allergic reaction will occur after a procedure. However, it’s important to consult with your regular dentist and the recommended specialist if you do have any allergies that apply to the materials being used.
It should also be noted that dental crowns can become loose or chipped and dental fillings can crack. It’s also possible for certain procedures to fail due to poor application, leaving gaps that can accumulate plaque and debris, leading to tooth decay.
That’s why it’s important to follow up with your regular dentist after your restorative dentistry procedure to ensure everything is in its proper place and working as it should. It’s also important to speak up if you’re experiencing discomfort or sensitivity past the average amount of recovery time.
Are You in Need of Restorative Dentistry?
Most people will require a dental restoration procedure at some point in their lives. Luckily, for every oral issue, there is a dental procedure that can help restore the teeth and mouth to their naturally functioning state.
Wayzata Dental offers a full suite of dental restoration services, including same-day crowns for those inconvenient emergency situations that crop up when you least expect them to. Visit our site to learn more about the dental restoration services we offer, or book your next appointment today!