Restorative dentistry is a branch of dentistry that focuses on repairing and rebuilding teeth that have been damaged. Every year, millions of dental restorations are performed in order to treat issues like cavities, cracks, chips, and worn or missing teeth. Through procedures like fillings, crowns, bridges, and dentures, restorative dentistry aims to restore teeth to their natural function, structure, and appearance. In this article, we will explore some of the most common restorative dental procedures and how they can help improve oral health and confidence.
One of the most common restorative procedures is the dental filling. Fillings are used to repair tooth decay or damage caused by cavities. When a cavity forms, it creates a hole in the tooth that needs to be filled. There are two main types of dental fillings:
– Amalgam Fillings: Made from an alloy of silver, tin, copper, and mercury, amalgam fillings have been used for over 150 years. They are durable, inexpensive, and hold up well to chewing pressure.
– Tooth-Colored Fillings: Made from composite resins or glass ionomers, tooth-colored fillings closely match the appearance of natural teeth. While more expensive than amalgam, they provide a more natural look.
The dentist will first numb the tooth and clean out any remaining decay. Then they will shape the cavity and fill it carefully with the restoration material. Fillings only take 30-60 minutes to place and can often save teeth from root canals or extractions by sealing out further decay underneath the filled tooth structure. Regular dental fillings last an average of 5-7 years before potential replacement.
While fillings help repair smaller areas of damage, dental crowns are used when a larger portion of the tooth needs to be restored. Crowns, or caps, are custom-fitted coverings that are placed over the tooth to restore its shape, size, strength, and appearance. Common reasons for needing a crown include:
– Decay or trauma has left a large filling needed for the tooth’s strength.
– A tooth has been root canal treated so requires extra coverage.
– Cracked, chipped, or worn-down teeth where larger fillings would not suffice.
The dentist will first prepare the tooth by shaving down the enamel and shaping the remaining structure. An impression is then taken and sent to a dental lab, where a crown fabricated from porcelain or other restoring materials will be created. Within 2-3 weeks, the crown is cemented permanently into place. With proper care, dental crowns can last 10-15 years or more.
When one or more teeth are missing, an option is a dental bridge. A bridge is a fixed restoration that replaces missing teeth by linking an fake tooth securely between adjacent natural teeth or implants. There are a few types of bridges:
– Traditional Bridges – Connect a false tooth between crowns on anchored teeth on either side.
– Maryland Bridges – A basic bridge design for replacing a single front tooth.
– Cantilever Bridges – Attach a replacement tooth to anchored teeth on one side only using extra bonding strength.
The dentist will prepare the abutment teeth by shaping them and placing crowns. After taking impressions, the lab creates pontics (fake teeth) that are permanently cemented into place between the crowns. Bridges can restore biting and speaking ability as well as enhancing appearance. With regular cleanings, they can last 10-15 years.
For patients missing many or all teeth, removable dentures offer an affordable dental restoration solution. Partial dentures are used when some natural teeth remain, snapping over a few abutment teeth and replacement teeth for support and retention. Complete dentures are worn in fully edentulous patients and sit loosely in the mouth, using oral tissues as anchors.
The denture process involves multiple appointments where impressions are used to create a custom mold of the teeth and gums. A set of acrylic resin teeth are then set into the mold and gently fitted. During healing and adjustments, relines may be needed until a perfect fit and functional result is achieved. Dentures require cleaning after eating and occasional relines as gums change over time. With care, dentures can last several years.
Advancements in Restorative Dentistry
New technologies continue advancing the field of restorative dentistry. Lasers are being used to prepare tooth structure more conservatively for crowns and bridges. All-ceramic crowns and veneers provide highly natural aesthetics. Implant dentistry now replaces missing teeth with titanium screws inserted in the jawbone to anchor replacement teeth or overdentures. Digital impressions precisely capture tooth structures to create restorations with a high level of customized fit.
Restorative Dentistry also interfaces with other areas of dentistry. For instance, endodontic root canals help retain cracked teeth that would otherwise be extracted. Orthodontics often facilitates creating space to restore missing teeth with bridges or dentures. Periodontics aims to maintain tooth supporting structures under restorations. Cosmetic dentistry incorporates techniques like bonding and veneers that avoid tooth preparation for small corrections.
Modern restorative dentistry provides effective and aesthetic solutions for repairing, strengthening or replacing damaged, missing or worn teeth. Whether through basic procedures like fillings or complex treatments like bridges and dentures, the goal is to preserve natural dental function and health as well as improving appearance. As technology develops further biomaterials and digital workflows, restorative dentistry will likely achieve more conservative and precise results. Regular dental care incorporating restorative techniques helps maintain full-mouth oral wellness and confidence for many years.
1. Source: Coherent Market Insights, Public sources, Desk research
2. We have leveraged AI tools to mine information and compile it