What Is Restorative Dentistry, and How Can It Improve My Smile?
Gain confidence in the health and appearance of your smile.
Think of it as a way to love yourself, to give yourself a big hug after life takes a few punches at you.
Literally or figuratively, life throws punches at all of us. Sometimes these punches (especially if they’re literal) result in chipped teeth. Or maybe a lack of dentistry care when you were younger means you try to hide your authentic smile because you feel self-conscious about crooked or stained teeth.
Restorative dentistry is a favorite specialty of ours at Tomasik Family Dental. It restores back to our patients what life chips away at bit by bit.
This branch of dentistry deals with restoring the health, function, and appearance of your teeth after they have suffered damage from injury or decay. The goal is for you to feel confident in the health and appearance of your smile by the end of your treatment, so a lot of customization goes into restorative procedures. This ensures that your restoration fits your mouth perfectly and that you love the way your new smile looks. Restorative dentistry uses a wide range of procedures and technology to address many different dental issues, from repairing decay to replacing missing teeth. If you aren’t yet sure how restorative dentistry can help, here are a few ways that it can improve your smile.
Dental crowns are one of the most common forms of restorative dentistry. They’re usually made of porcelain, which is milled into the shape of a tooth and placed over your natural tooth to restore it. When you get a crown, its shape, size, and shade are all designed with you in mind to ensure that it looks and feels completely natural. You’ll get input on these elements of your crown as well to ensure that you love your restored smile. Porcelain crowns are most often used to restore teeth that have suffered decay that’s too severe to be treated with a simple dental filling, but they have a wide range of other uses. Dr. Tomasik also uses dental crowns to restore and protect teeth that have been worn down over time or suffered major injuries such as deep cracks or breaks in the tooth. They can also simply be used to restore the appearance of permanently stained, crooked, or irregularly shaped teeth.
Dental crowns extend all the way to the gum line, so they prevent future injuries to your tooth and act as a barrier between it and bacteria. This allows them to protect its surface from decay, though it’s important to remember that periodontitis can still attack the root of your tooth. At its worst, this can result in tooth loss, so it’s vital to continue flossing and brushing your teeth carefully in order to keep them healthy—whether or not you have a crown. Porcelain crowns are incredibly durable and stain-resistant, so they can last around 15 years if you take good care of them.
Inlays and Onlays
When your tooth is damaged too severely for a dental filling but not severely enough to warrant a dental crown, inlays and onlays are alternative treatment options. They’re used to treat teeth that have been damaged by decay, cracks, or major chips. Inlays and onlays are made from the same durable porcelain as dental crowns and allow you to retain as much of your natural tooth structure as possible, which is better for your long-term oral health. Inlays are placed on the chewing surface of your tooth, between its cusps. Onlays, which are sometimes called partial crowns, cover the chewing surface of the tooth as well as one or more of its cusps. The porcelain ensures that the inlay or onlay matches the gloss, shade, and shape of your tooth so well that no one will even know it’s there—it simply blends in with your natural tooth. They’re also incredibly durable and can last around 20 years if you care for them with great oral hygiene.
Even losing a single tooth can have an impact on the way you eat or speak as well as the way you feel about your smile. It can also have far-reaching effects on your future oral health, as your remaining teeth will begin to shift into the gap from your missing tooth. If they’re allowed to do this, your teeth will start spreading apart, becoming harder to clean between effectively. A dental bridge prevents this by filling the gap in your smile, protecting your long-term oral health. It also restores the function of your missing tooth, allowing you to eat and speak normally again.
Bridges are generally made from porcelain and can replace one or two missing teeth. They consist of a beautiful, natural-looking prosthetic tooth that’s fused to a porcelain crown on either side. These crowns are placed on the teeth next to the gap, suspending the replacement tooth between them so that it fills the gap and provides the stability that allows it to function like a normal tooth. Since they’re made of porcelain, dental bridges are also capable of blending into your smile seamlessly and are durable enough to let you eat all of your favorite foods. They’re relatively low maintenance, but you do need to use a special tool to clean underneath the bridge every day. This prevents gum disease and keeps the gums underneath it healthy. With great oral hygiene, your dental bridge can last around 15 years before it needs to be replaced.
Losing all or most of your teeth hinders your ability to eat many of your favorite foods, impacts the way you speak, and can be devastating for your self-confidence. Thankfully, restorative dentistry actually has quite a few solutions that can restore the health, appearance, and function of your teeth. Dentures are removable tooth replacements that come in several forms to meet your treatment needs. You can get partial dentures, which replace a smaller section of teeth, dentures on just your upper or lower arch, or complete dentures.
Dentures generally consist of tooth prosthetics set into false gums, both of which look incredibly natural. Your dentures are made specifically for you, so we customize the size, shape, and shade of your new teeth to most resemble your natural smile and align with your preferences. Traditional dentures are held in place by suction and shouldn’t slip or fall out if they fit well. Unfortunately, however, your body begins to reabsorb your jaw bone when you lose teeth, so your dentures will fit more loosely over time. You should get your dentures checked every year and will likely need to replace them every 5 to 10 years.
Whether you’ve lost a single tooth or all of your teeth, dental implants are an incredibly effective way to restore the function and appearance of your teeth while protecting your long-term oral health. Dental implants consist of a titanium root that is embedded directly into your jaw bone to mimic a natural tooth root. This titanium tooth root is then fitted with a dental restoration—usually a beautiful tooth-shaped crown. Depending on how many implants you receive, they can be fitted with porcelain crowns, dental bridges, or dentures. Each type of restoration is custom-made for you so that they look just as natural as they feel.
Just like dental bridges, implants protect your oral health by filling the gap left by missing teeth, but they also perform a unique job that no other tooth replacement option can achieve: they prevent bone loss in your jaw. They can even reverse some existing bone loss because the titanium metal rods actively encourage bone growth. Once an implant is placed in your jaw, the bone grows around it to root it more firmly in place. This also helps grant your implant even more stability so that it feels just like a natural tooth. Even implant-supported dentures have a level of stability and natural feel that is unrivaled by other types of dentures, allowing you to eat all of your favorite foods—no matter how crunchy or chewy they are! The tooth prosthesis on your dental implant will eventually need to be replaced due to wear and tear, but the implant itself will last you a lifetime if you practice great oral hygiene.
Restorative dentistry has the versatility to meet your unique treatment needs and goals, revitalizing your smile and ensuring that it stays healthy, functional, and beautiful in the long-term. If you still have questions about restorative dentistry treatments and which might be right for you, you can call our office to schedule a consultation with Dr. Tomasik at any time.