Stained, missing, or damaged teeth can cause embarrassment and emotional distress, and can also affect your ability to chew comfortably and speak clearly. To help you revitalize your smile West 85th Dental offers a variety of restorative dental services including fillings, crowns, and bridges.
Fillings are used to fix cavities. There are different types of fillings, each of which has different strengths as well as different aesthetic and cost implications. Your dentist will suggest an appropriate filling material depending on how severe your cavity is and where it is located.
Before filling your cavity, your dentist will apply a local anesthetic so that you do not feel any pain or discomfort during the procedure. Your dentist will then clear away the decayed section of your tooth, shape the remaining hole, and fill it.
There are two ways that fillings can be done:
- Direct fillings go right into the cavity once your dentist has finished cleaning the hole. Amalgam (silver) or white fillings are typically done as direct fillings because they harden relatively quickly. In most cases, a direct filling can be completed in one appointment.
- Indirect fillings include crowns, caps, and inlays. These types of fillings are custom made in a lab to fit your tooth. After the filling is made your dentist cements it in place. Since the filling has to be made before it is installed indirect fillings typically take two or more appointments.
Dental amalgam is the most well-known type of direct filling material, but their metallic colour makes them less visually pleasing for many patients. Ceramic fillings are becoming more popular because they are durable (like amalgam) but make the filling less visually obvious. Your dentist will help you decide which type of filling is best for you based on the location of your cavity, your unique dental needs, and other factors.
Should I Change My Silver Fillings?
Amalgam fillings only need to be changed if the margin (the interface between your tooth and the filling) begins to lift. Over time amalgam fillings tend to expand, and one of the most common dental emergencies related to fillings is when a tooth cracks due to years of use and expansion of the filling.
Not all amalgam fillings need to be changed. Your dentist will let you know when it is time for you to have your fillings changed.
Crowns, also called caps, are hollow artificial teeth that are used to cover decaying or damaged teeth. They are also used in bridges and dental implants. Crowns can be used to improve the look of cracked, stained, or otherwise blemished teeth.
Crowns can be made from 4 different materials or material combinations: metal, composite, porcelain, and porcelain-fused-to-metal. Each type of material has its strengths and its drawbacks, and your dentist will help you decide which material is best for you based on your unique dental needs.
- Metal Crowns: Metal crowns are made of gold and are one of the most durable and long lasting types of crowns. Metal crowns rarely chip or break, and do not tend to wear down the natural teeth located opposite when you bite or chew. However, gold does not blend in with your natural teeth and is viewed by may patients as unsightly, particularly if it is used on a front tooth.
- Composite Crowns: Composite crowns are more durable than porcelain crowns and blend in well with your natural teeth. However, composite crowns are not as robust as metal crowns and tend to wear down relatively quickly. Brushing your teeth can also wear down the highly polished surface of your composite crowns, causing them to stain more easily.
- Porcelain Crowns: Porcelain crowns are the most natural looking crowns, but they are more brittle than metal and composite crowns and tend to chip more easily. This relative fragility means that porcelain crowns are typically only used on front teeth, and are not considered the best option for molars and premolars.
- Porcelain-Fused-To-Metal: Porcelain-fused-to-metal crowns combine the strength of metal crowns with the natural look of porcelain and are less likely to chip than pure porcelain crowns or composite crowns. However, the nature of their design means that a small bit of metal may become visible over time, particularly if your gums are thin or recede.
Most crowns require two visits.
- The First Visit: Before your crown is installed, your dentist will treat your tooth with a local anesthetic. Your dentist will then take impressions (moulds) of your tooth before filling it down to make room for the permanent crown. This first set of impressions will be used to create a temporary crown.
Next, your dentist will take an impression of your filed down tooth and its neighbours. This impression will be used to create your permanent, custom fit crown. Your tooth will need to be protected while your permanent crown is being made, so your dentist may fit your tooth with a temporary crown made from restorative material. Restorative material is the same material used for some types of filling. The temporary crown may not be the same colour or shape as your natural tooth.
- The Second Visit: When you return to your dentist, they will remove your temporary crown and install your permanent crown. It is imperative that you return for your second appointment and receive your permanent crown. Temporary crowns are only designed to handle minimal wear and tear. If your temporary crown becomes cracked or damaged, it can leave your tooth vulnerable to infection.
Once your permanent crown is in place, your dentist will check to make sure that is the right colour, shape, fit and bite. If your crown is correct, it will then be cemented in place.
Depending on your unique dental needs you may require orthodontic care, gum treatments, or a root canal before your dentist can install your permanent crown. If this is the case, then your appointment may take longer than usual, and you may need to visit your dentist for more than two appointments before your crown can be installed.
Dental bridges, also called fixed bridges or fixed dental prostheses, are used to replace one or more missing teeth. The bridge extends across the gap in your teeth and typically consists of one artificial tooth fused between two dental crowns.
Dental bridges can be held in place either by your natural teeth or by dental implants.
Dental bridges come in 4 main types: traditional bridges, implant supported bridges, resin-bonded bridges, and cantilever bridges. Your dentist will select the type of bridge best suited to your needs based on the location of your missing tooth or teeth and the condition of your natural teeth and gums.
All bridges are made using custom moulded teeth and are designed to blend in with your natural teeth.
- Traditional Bridges: Traditional bridges are used when you have strong, natural teeth on either side of the spot where your tooth is missing. Depending on your dental needs and other factors your dentist may suggest a dental implant instead of a bridge. To hold your bridge in place your dentist will need to file down the two healthy teeth located on either side of your gap, but if you opt for a dental implant instead these natural teeth will not need to be filed down.
- Implant Supported Bridges: Implant supported bridges are designed for patients who do not have enough healthy teeth to support a traditional bridge. Implant supported bridges are also used in cases where you do not have any remaining natural teeth. While traditional bridges are anchored by healthy teeth, implant supported bridges are instead supported by dental implants.
Not all patients are suitable candidates for dental implants, so your dentist will need to examine your teeth, gums, and jaw, before determining if an implant supported bridge is a good choice for you.
- Resin-Bonded Bridges: Resin-bonded bridges, also called Maryland bridges, are used when you are missing one or more of your front teeth. This type of bridge is made by fusing artificial teeth to metal bands, which are then cemented in place on the backs of your natural teeth.
- Cantilever Bridges: Cantilever bridges are used when you have healthy teeth on only one side of your gap. This type of bridge resembles a traditional bridge but is anchored in place on only one side.
A bridge that is properly cared for should last at least ten years. Just like your natural teeth you should brush your bridge at least twice per day, and floss around it at least once per day. To help you maintain your bridge, your dentist will teach you how to use a floss threader to properly floss around and underneath the artificial tooth (or teeth) in the middle of your bridge.
Just like your natural teeth, plaque and tartar can build up on your bridge. Regular dental exams and cleanings are crucial for keeping your bridge clean and your remaining natural teeth healthy. Regular exams and cleanings can also prevent gum diseases. For more information about how to properly care for your bridge, please speak to your dentist.
Restorative dental care can help you refresh your smile and protect it from future decay and damage. For more information about the restorative dental procedures offered at West 85th Dental, or to book your next appointment, please contact us.