It is estimated that the overwhelming majority of adults in the United States will have at least one cavity or dental issue in their lifetime, and those with damaged or missing teeth can benefit from restorative dentistry. The primary goal of restorative dentistry is to restore a person’s dental health so it can be better maintained going forward.
What Is Restorative Dentistry?
Restorative dentistry is typically for those people who have missing or damaged teeth and consists of repairing damaged teeth that have cavities and tooth decay, or cracks and breaks, as well as replacing missing teeth by adding in bridges or implants to make an individual’s smile look more complete.
While a common side effect can be aesthetic in that a person can feel more confident in the appearance of their smile, the main goal of restorative dentistry is to restore the patient’s overall oral health, which can include increased functioning of the teeth for daily activities such as speaking clearly and chewing easily.
Rather than restorative dentistry being a separate industry, many family or general Houston dentists practice this discipline and can administer the following treatments in their offices:
- Bridges. A bridge is often used on a patient that is missing one or more teeth in a row. The bridge is anchored by dental crowns on each side and has artificial teeth in between.
- Crowns. If a tooth is chipped or broken, a Houston dentist may opt to use a dental crown. This implement is often likened to a cap for the tooth as it fits over the top. Getting prepared for a crown can require some wearing down of the affected tooth’s enamel before it can be properly fitted.
- Dentures. Patients that are missing several teeth may be told to pursue dentures. Depending on the Houston dentist’s recommendations, dentures are either partial or full and can rest on the top of the gums or be attached to dental implants.
- Fillings. This is the most common type of restorative dentistry procedure. When bacteria collect in the mouth, it begins to erode the tooth enamel to the point that there is a hole in the tooth. At this point a cavity is present and requires a filling to stop the decay from continuing to expand. Fillings are made in a variety of materials, but many patients prefer those that match the natural color of their teeth.
- Implants. When a patient has a single missing tooth, an implant can be done. The tooth is designed to match the shade of the surrounding teeth and also functions as a natural tooth.
- Inlays and onlays. In the event that a cavity is larger than what is conducive for fillings and too small to be addressed by a dental crown, the Houston dentist may recommend an inlay or onlay. These are customized to the patient and are secured with bonding.
- Root canal therapy. When a crack or cavity extends into the tooth’s pulp, the result can be a particularly painful infection that requires root canal therapy. In this procedure, the diseased tooth pulp is removed, the area is cleaned and filled, and then sealed to protect against bacteria. Root canal therapy also usually necessitates the use of a dental crown for added tooth support.
The Benefits of Restorative Dentistry
One of the most visible benefits of restorative dentistry is the pleasing aesthetic effect. It is not uncommon for a person who has badly damaged or missing teeth to avoid flashing big smiles or engaging in conversation with acquaintances. However, having a full set of repaired and natural looking teeth can bolster a person’s confidence and have a domino effect in other areas of their lives as well.
In addition to cosmetic advantages, other benefits can include improved overall oral health, reduction in pain and discomfort, and improved function for speaking and chewing.
Perhaps the most important benefit of restorative dentistry is simply the ability to reduce the incidence of growing dental issues in the future. Letting damaged teeth go unaddressed can result in what could have been limited to a simple cavity turning into an extracted tooth. By replacing a missing tooth with a dental implant, it may help better preserve the jawbone’s density.
What to Know About Restorative Dentistry
Restorative dentistry procedures are each unique, and for that reason can come with different timelines. For example, the garden variety cavity can normally be filled in one visit. Crowns, dentures, implants, and other procedures that require shade matching with a patient’s natural tooth color can take several visits. For example, a patient who needs a crown will often have the tooth shaved down in preparation for the crown and will receive a temporary crown all in the same visit. After the customized dental crown comes in, it will require a second appointment to replace the temporary crown with the permanent crown.
The success of restorative dentistry still depends heavily on the patient’s dedication to maintaining good oral hygiene. The completion of one of these procedures does not mean that a person can let their oral healthcare go. Ignoring your healthcare could also invite new problems in areas like the gums, which may in turn affect previous procedures. Individuals should still commit to brushing twice a day, flossing regularly, and going to the Houston dentist for routine exams and cleaning.
Something patients can do to safeguard restorative dentistry procedures is to practice caution with the types of foods they eat. Chewing ice can be a bad habit, particularly when doing so could crack a crown. Eating particularly sticky or gummy foods could also cause damage, and enjoying hard candies may also not be advised.
Visiting the dentist every six months for professional cleanings and check-ups are instrumental in caring for restorative procedures. This allows the Houston dental professionals to identify any changes or emerging issues and address them in a timely manner.
Make your dental health a priority with restorative dentistry. If you are having oral pain and suspect an issue or have lapsed in your regular appointments, schedule a visit with your Houston dentist today.