Restorative dentistry involves restoring lost function, restoring lost tooth structure, and restoring health.
People’s mouths are in a constant state of deterioration. There are over 500 species of bacteria in the mouth, many of which cause disease. The teeth are also exposed to constant acid attacks from eating and drinking and are subjected to large forces from biting and sometimes teeth grinding. Due to the affects of this deterioration over a number of years teeth require treatment to help restore health, lost function and lost tooth structure.
Common conditions that contribute to the deterioration of dental health include gum disease, decay, teeth cracking and breaking, wear and loss of teeth. Gum disease includes two conditions gingivitis and periodontitis. Gingivitis means inflammation of the gingiva (gums) while periodontitis means inflammation of the periodontium (supporting bone, ligament and connective tissue that holds the teeth in place). Dental decay is caused when bacteria in the mouth essentially eat the teeth away. The bacteria that cause dental decay like an acidic and sugar rich environment so any foods with sugar favour dental decay causing bacteria.
Teeth can crack and break for a variety of reasons including excessive load on the teeth and from old amalgam fillings. Old amalgam fillings expand over time as they corrode and as they expand they put internal forces on the teeth causing them to crack and eventually break. Teeth wear means that the teeth wear away and get shorter over time. Wear results from normal chewing function but can be greatly increased by nighttime teeth grinding and from an acidic diet, which softens the teeth so they wear faster. Loss of teeth means there are less teeth to chew with resulting in greater loads on the remaining teeth meaning they are more likely to be lost in the future.
Common treatments for restoring function are gum disease treatment, dental crowns, dental bridges, dental inlays and onlays and dental implants. Gum disease treatment involved removing the bacterial deposits (calculus) off the root surfaces of the teeth to restore health. Dental crowns are the strongest restoration that we can do in dentistry. We construct dental crowns when there are large amounts of tooth structure missing to reinforce, protect and strengthen the tooth. Dental bridges are used when there is a tooth on either side of a missing tooth. The dental bridge involves two dental crowns with a suspended tooth between them to fill the gap from a missing tooth. Dental inlays and onlays are an intermediate solution to reinforce teeth that are halfway between fillings and dental crowns. Finally, dental implants can be used to replace missing teeth. Dental implants involve a titanium implant placed into the bone to replace the missing root part of the tooth with a porcelain crown placed on top of it to replace the visible part of the tooth above the gums