What is restorative dentistry?

“Restorative dentistry” is a term many people don’t hear until they need it, so if you’ve never heard of it before, don’t worry—you’re not the only one! Restorative dentistry is a specialty within dentistry that deals with restoring the health and functionality of damaged teeth. Many treatments fall under the umbrella of restorative dentistry, so the specialty can treat a wide range of issues. These include treating teeth that have suffered damage from decay as well as teeth that are chipped, broken, or missing.

While restorative dentistry treatments are always medically necessary, a lot of customized work goes into them to restore or improve the appearance of your smile as well. This ensures that you’ll love the unique, natural results! But how exactly can restorative dentistry improve your smile? We want you to understand all of your treatment options, so we’ve provided a basic guide on several of the most common restorative dentistry treatments and how they could help you regain a healthy, strong, and beautiful smile.

Fillings

Unless a cavity is severe, it’s usually treated with one of the most common restorative dentistry treatments available: a dental filling. When you receive a filling, your dentist numbs your mouth and removes the decayed portion of your tooth, leaving behind as much healthy tooth structure as possible. They then fill the hole in your tooth with a filling, which is most often made from a tooth-colored composite, amalgam, or gold, and restores the function of your damaged tooth.

Fillings made of a tooth-colored composite are the most common because they’re tinted and buffed to match the shade and gloss of the rest of your tooth. This allows it to seamlessly blend in with your natural tooth.

Fillings don’t just renew the appearance of your smile, though—they actively restore and protect your oral health! They stop the spread of decay in its tracks and treat cavities before they become a bigger oral health problem. They keep the affected tooth healthy in the long term by sealing the weak spot off from bacteria, protecting it from future decay. The procedure is simple and incredibly common, so you can usually complete it in a single visit to our office.

Root Canals

When a cavity goes untreated, the bacteria can make it through your tooth’s protective layer of enamel and into its soft interior. This is where the tooth’s blood vessels and nerves are located, so it often causes tooth pain and can eventually lead to tooth loss—but it’s not inevitable! Root canals can save a tooth suffering from this level of decay.

During this restorative dentistry treatment, your dentist removes the decayed part of your tooth, including cleaning out the soft interior, before filling the cavity. Cleaning out the interior of your tooth helps prevent future decay and eliminates tooth pain. A dental crown is then placed on the tooth to restore its appearance and function while protecting the tooth from future decay.

Dental Crowns

Sometimes, a severely damaged tooth needs a little extra protection in the form of a dental crown. A dental crown is a tooth-shaped restoration that’s placed over your natural tooth, allowing it to act as a shield against future damage from injury or decay. Crowns are often used as a restorative dentistry treatment for teeth that have suffered a major crack, break, or severe decay, including after you have received root canal therapy. They create a seal that protects your natural tooth from decay and are made from strong materials that allow your tooth to regain normal, healthy function.

They’re most often made of porcelain or ceramic because these materials look completely natural and are highly customizable, but they can also be made of metal or gold. Each type of material has strengths and weaknesses, but they’re all capable of lasting around 15 years or more if you practice great oral hygiene at home.

Dental Bridges

If you’ve lost one or two teeth, you may want to consider a dental bridge as a tooth replacement option. This porcelain restoration consists of one or two prosthetic teeth with a crown on either end. The crowns are the foundation of your dental bridge because they’re placed on the healthy teeth next to the gap in your smile to suspend the prosthetic teeth in the gap and give them added stability. Like other restorative dentistry treatments, your bridge is designed specifically for you so that it blends in perfectly with your natural teeth, creating a smile you’ll genuinely love.

Their placement and easy customization allow dental bridges to restore the function and appearance of your teeth, but they also protect your oral health in several surprising ways. By filling the gap in your smile, dental bridges prevent your natural teeth from shifting into it and developing gaps between other teeth. By preventing your bite from shifting this way, bridges ensure that it remains easy to thoroughly brush and floss your teeth while protecting you from bite and joint issues. Dental bridges are built to last, so the right at-home care can allow them to go 15 years or more before they need to be replaced.

Dentures

Dentures come in many forms, from partial dentures to full dentures, but they’re all designed to help restore the function, appearance, and health of your teeth after you’ve lost multiple or all of your teeth. They consist of prosthetic teeth and gums and are generally made of porcelain or resin and acrylic materials. Your dentures are made specifically for you taking into account your input on the size, shape, and shade of your new teeth, and modern materials and techniques ensure that they look and feel more natural than ever before.

Contrary to popular belief, it’s not normal for dentures to slip in your mouth—if they’re slipping out of place, they don’t fit well! Bone loss in your jaw can change the way your dentures fit over time, however, so it’s important to get your dentures checked yearly to see if they need adjustments. This bone loss also means that they generally need to be replaced every five to 10 years. Despite this, dentures restore your ability to do once-simple tasks like eating, speaking, and smiling with confidence—and that can make a huge difference in your daily life.

Dental Implants

There’s no other tooth replacement treatment out there like dental implants because they’re designed to replace your entire tooth from root to crown. Dental implants consist of a titanium metal post that is embedded in your jaw to mimic your tooth root, then capped with a tooth replacement option of your choice. A single implant supports a dental crown, but you can get several to support a dental bridge or dentures to replace several or all of your teeth.

Dental implants carry all of the benefits of other tooth replacement options, such as preventing your remaining teeth from shifting, but they go beyond that by actively helping to prevent the bone loss in your jaw that results from losing teeth. Since titanium is biocompatible, it actively encourages your jaw bone to grow around it—so it can even reverse some bone loss!

No matter what restoration you place on your implants, they provide deep-rooted stability that helps them feel incredibly natural. Even denture implants feel natural and are strong enough for you to eat any food you’d like, from corn on the cob to whole apples. The appearance of your restoration is customizable, so you’ll get a smile you love—one that feels and looks natural while giving you the confidence of knowing that it’s also protecting your long-term oral health. These benefits are simply invaluable for many people! Plus, you’ll never have to worry about replacing dental implants, as they’ll last a lifetime if you care for them with great oral hygiene.

While you may not have heard of restorative dentistry before, it can transform your daily life. It can give you a healthier smile while also restoring its strength, function, and natural beauty. You may be surprised by just how much this can improve your confidence in your smile! If you’d like to learn more about how you can find the best dentist in Reading, MA, to transform your smile, feel free to call our team at First Dental Associates and schedule an appointment at any time!