In dental bonding, a durable resin is bonded to the patient’s teeth to improve the health and aesthetics of the smile. The resin is secured to the teeth using a special medical light, thus strengthening it and helping ensure it will last.
There are many uses for dental bonding. It can repair damaged or decayed teeth, restore any yellowed teeth to a natural color, close the spaces that occur between teeth, or even improve the shape of the teeth.
Sometimes, dental bonding is used to protect the gums and roots of teeth. This may be necessary if ordinary gum recession has left a root partially exposed.
Dental bridges are used to protect and cover the gap created between two teeth when one tooth is missing. Using a dental bridge can restore the look of the teeth and promote health of adjacent teeth due to greater support for the chewing action.
A bridge consists of a pair of crowns covering the teeth adjacent to the missing tooth. The two teeth worked on are known as “abutment teeth.” Crowns can use a variety of materials, but are most frequently made from porcelain for a natural appearance.
In most cases, bridges are supported by the natural teeth around them. Sometimes, it may be necessary to use dental implants in the jaw to support bridges.
A dental crown is an artificial “cap” implanted over a damaged tooth. Dental crowns restore the look of the tooth while protecting it from damage and decay. Generally, they cover the full tooth surface that lies above the gum line.
Dental crowns are most frequently used to protect a weak or damaged tooth, or in cases where a large filling has weakened a tooth’s structure. However, they can also be used to support dental bridges or protect dental implants.
Crowns can also be used solely for aesthetic reasons, or for pediatric patients if their teeth are especially vulnerable to decay.
A tooth may be extracted for a range of medical reasons. Infection or increased risk of infection due to tooth decay are the most frequent reasons for removal of a tooth. However, a tooth might be extracted to improve tooth alignment, following traumatic damage to the tooth, or as part of a treatment for gum disease.
Tooth extraction is permanent, but patients can benefit from a variety of other procedures that usually follow an extraction. For example, a dental implant or a bridge might be used to restore the look of the mouth while providing the patient with a healthy bite.
Fillings are among the most common of all dental procedures. Fillings become necessary when tooth decay has eroded the enamel of a tooth. A dentist will drill the afflicted tooth to remove the decayed dental material, then insert an appropriate filling. Fillings guard against further decay in the affected area, protecting a tooth.
In the past, the majority of cavities were filled using amalgam material. Amalgam fillings include a variety of metals that can sometimes be conspicuous. Composite resin filling generally looks more like natural tooth material than amalgam fillings do. In either case, however, fillings are intended to last for life.
A dental implant is used when gum disease or traumatic injury to the mouth makes it difficult to use alternative means of repairing a tooth. The dental implant usually takes the form of a screw implanted directly into the jaw to support an artificial tooth.
Once an implant is secured into or onto the jawbone, a patient will generally wait some time while the bone grows around the implant. Once the healing process is complete, an artificial tooth is inserted into the mouth and anchored using the dental implant.
Implants can be used to replace a single tooth, multiple teeth, or even all of a patient’s teeth.
Oral surgery can be used to treat a number of dental health issues. The most common form of oral surgery involves removal of a damaged, infected, or impacted tooth. Without oral surgery, impacted teeth can cause severe damage to adjacent teeth.
Oral surgery can also be used in the treatment of jaw problems that influence dental health. For example, surgery can enhance alignment of the jaw or correct issues that might make it difficult for patients to use dentures.
Many forms of oral surgery require general anesthesia to be successful. Patients must follow a dentist’s instructions closely to prepare for any surgery.
A root canal is necessary if decay leads to inflammation of the soft tissue deep within a tooth. This tissue is known as “pulp.” It houses blood vessels and nerves critical to early development of each tooth.
The pulp is no longer needed in a full-grown tooth, but it remains in place. If it becomes inflamed, it can be removed through a root canal. The procedure consists of drilling and removing the afflicted pulp.
After the pulp is removed, the tooth is sanitized before being sealed with a specialized rubber compound. A dental filling or crown is used to restore the tooth’s normal function.
Over time, even teeth that are diligently cared for begin to show stains. Patients who brush their teeth as recommended may still encounter some yellowing over time as stains sink deeper into the porous surface of tooth enamel.
Dental whitening is used to remove “deep down” stains and restore teeth to gleaming whiteness. The tooth whitening procedures used in a dental office are typically ten times stronger than what might be available over the counter.
In most tooth whitening procedures, the teeth are cleaned and then overlaid with a specialized whitening gel. The gel is activated using a medical laser. Within sixty minutes, treated teeth are whitened by several shades.