Dental Restorations (Fillings)
Fillings are materials we use as dentists to replace tooth structure because a tooth has had decay (a cavity) or damage to the original tooth structure. Restorative materials are chosen based on the patient’s needs and desires, ranging from the need for durability to cosmetic appearance.
A crown is a large, specially fabricated restoration cemented onto a tooth to protect it once the tooth can no longer be treated with a normal dental restoration (filling). A crown covers the entire tooth to protect it from future damage or fractures. Crowns are sometimes called "caps". A bridge is two or more fused crowns cemented onto the teeth to replace one or more teeth that have been lost. A bridge usually has a crown on one end of it and a crown on the other end of it. The two end teeth have a false tooth fused between them that serve to bridge one crown to the other. The two crowns hold the false tooth in place. Sometimes more than one false tooth is fused between the two crowns if more than one tooth is missing. Crowns and bridges are cemented into place and cannot be removed by the patient.
A partial is also called a partial denture. It is usually made of plastic or a combination of metal and plastic. Partials replace missing teeth, whether one tooth is missing or many teeth are missing. Partials are removed every day from the mouth to clean them. Partials are placed when a person has good teeth remaining in the mouth that can support a partial to hold it in place. Partials usually have clasps that allow them to hook around good teeth in the mouth. Partials can be supported by implants to increase their stability.
Dentures are placed when someone no longer has any top teeth present or any bottom teeth present to hold a partial or a bridge into place. Dentures are usually made of plastic and sit over the dental ridge to replace missing top teeth and bottom teeth. Dentures are normally worn during waking hours and removed while the denture wearer sleeps. Dentures can be supported by implants to make them much more stable than they would be alone.
Implant restorations are restorations that are placed onto implants, and are used to replace one or more missing teeth. Implants are metal threaded posts that are placed into the dental bone to replace tooth roots. Implant restorations replace the visible part of the tooth that is used to chew food and for appearance purposes. Implant restorations are screwed or cemented onto the implant fixtures. Implant restorations can be made to anchor partials or dentures that snap over them, making the partials or dentures stable, but still removable. Implant bridges can be made to replace multiple teeth and be made to be non-removable like a traditional bridge (one supported by real teeth). Implant restorations can be made to replace a single tooth, or all upper and lower teeth.
Root Canal Therapy
Root canal therapy is performed on a tooth when the tooth is able to be left in place, but the nerve inside the tooth is no longer alive. When a tooth nerve dies, it many times causes pain and infection, which are usually treated with root canal therapy or removal of the concerned tooth. Root canal therapy removes the diseased nerve tissue from inside the root of the tooth and replaces the tissue with filling material. This filling material helps prevent the tooth from becoming infected again. Root canal therapy allows someone to treat the infection in the tooth and to keep the tooth at the same time. A root canal is followed by a core build-up to replace damaged tooth structure and sometimes is followed by a crown to properly protect the treated tooth long term.
An extraction is the removal of a tooth.