A smile can be the most eye-catching feature of a face. With
dentistry's many advances, you no longer have to settle for
stained, chipped, or misshapen teeth. You have choices that
can help you smile with confidence. Talk to Dr. Wall about
the options most suitable for you, what your expectations
are, and the dental fees involved.
If you're missing one or more teeth, you may notice a difference
in chewing and speaking. A bridge may be used to replace missing
teeth, help maintain the shape of your face, and alleviate
the stress in your bite.
There are two types of tooth replacement: fixed bridge
A fixed bridge replaces missing teeth with artificial teeth,
looks great, and literally bridges the gap where one or more
teeth may have been. The restoration can be made from gold,
alloys, porcelain or a combination of these materials and
is bonded onto surrounding teeth for support.
An implant attaches artificial teeth directly to the jaw
under the gum tissue. A small titanium fixture may be used
to surgically place the implant in the upper or lower jawbone
to replace the root of your missing tooth and provide an anchor
for a crown.
The success of any bridge or implant depends on its foundation — the other teeth, gums, or bone to which it is attached.
So it's very important to keep your remaining teeth, gums,
and jaw healthy and strong.
A crown covers a tooth and restores it to its normal shape
and size. A crown can make your tooth stronger and improve
its appearance. It can cover and support a tooth that has
a large filling. It can be used to attach a bridge, prevent
a weak or brittle tooth from breaking, or restore one that's
already broken. A crown is a good way to cover teeth that
are discolored, badly shaped, or out of position. Crowns are also
used to cover dental implants.
A crown may be made of gold or porcelain. It is made to fit
the tooth precisely. It looks somewhat like a thimble and
is cemented onto the prepared tooth.
If Dr. Wall recommends a crown, it's probably to correct
one of these conditions. Dr. Wall's primary aim, like
yours, is to help you keep your teeth healthy and your smile
There are times when it is necessary to remove a tooth. Sometimes
a baby tooth has long or misshapen roots that prevent it from
falling out and the tooth must be removed to make way for
the permanent tooth to erupt. At other times, a tooth may have
so much decay that it puts the surrounding teeth and jaw at
risk of decay, so Dr. Wall may recommend removal and replacement
with a bridge or implant. Infection, orthodontic correction,
or problems with a wisdom tooth can also require removal of
When it is determined that a tooth needs to be removed, the
dentist may extract the tooth during a regular checkup or
the dentist may request another visit for this procedure.
While the procedure is typically very quick, it is important
to share any concerns or preferences for sedation that you
Restoring Your Smile: Dental Filling Choices
Advances in modern dental materials and techniques have provided
new ways to create more pleasing, natural-looking smiles.
As a result, dentists and patients have several choices when
it comes to selecting materials used to repair missing, worn,
damaged, or decayed teeth.
Traditional dental restoratives include gold, porcelain, and
composite. The strength and durability of traditional dental
materials continue to make them useful for situations where
restored teeth must withstand extreme forces that result from
chewing, such as in the back of the mouth.
Newer dental restoratives include ceramic and plastic compounds
that mimic the appearance of natural teeth. These compounds,
often called composite resins, are often used on the front
teeth where a natural appearance is important. They can be
used on the back teeth as well depending on the location and
extent of the tooth decay. Composite resins are usually more
costly than the older amalgam fillings.
What’s right for me?
Several factors influence the performance, durability, longevity
and expense of dental restorations. These factors include:
the components used in the filling material; the amount of
tooth structure remaining; where and how the filling is placed;
the chewing load that the tooth will have to bear; and the
length and number of visits needed to prepare and adjust the
With so many choices, how do you know what’s
right for you?
The ultimate decision about what to use is best determined
by the patient in consultation with the dentist. Before your
treatment begins, discuss the options with Dr. Wall. To
help you prepare for this discussion it is helpful to understand
the two basic types of dental restorations: direct and indirect.
Direct restorations are fillings placed immediately into
a prepared cavity in a single visit. They include dental amalgam,
glass ionomers, resin ionomers and composite (resin) fillings.
The dentist prepares the tooth, places the filling and adjusts
it during one appointment.
Indirect restorations generally require two or more visits.
They include inlays, onlays, veneers, crowns and bridges fabricated
with gold, base metal alloys, ceramics or composites. During
the first visit, the dentist prepares the tooth and makes
an impression of the area to be restored. The dentist then
places a temporary over the prepared tooth. The impression
is sent to a dental laboratory, which creates the dental restoration.
At the next appointment, the dentist cements the restoration
into the prepared cavity and adjusts it as needed.
Root Canal (Endodontic) Treatment
In the past, if you had a tooth with a diseased nerve, you'd
probably lose that tooth. Today, with a special dental procedure
called root canal treatment, you may save that tooth.
Inside each tooth is the pulp and the nerve. The nerve is
the vestige of the tissue that originally formed the tooth.
Once the tooth has been in the mouth for a time, the functioning
of the nerve is no longer necessary.
When a tooth is cracked or has a deep cavity, bacteria can
enter the pulp. Germs can cause an infection inside the tooth.
Left without treatment, pus builds up at the root tip, in
the jawbone, forming a "pus-pocket" called an abscess.
An abscess can cause the pulp tissue to die. When the infected
pulp is not removed, pain and swelling can result. Certain
byproducts of the infection can injure your jawbones and your
overall health. Without treatment, your tooth may have to
Treatment often involves from one to three visits. During
treatment, your general dentist or endodontist (a dentist
who specializes in problems of the pulp) removes the diseased
pulp. Next the pulp chamber and root canal(s) of the tooth
are cleaned and sealed. Often posterior teeth that have endodontic
treatment should have a cast crown placed in order to strengthen
the remaining structure. Then as long as you to continue to
care for your teeth and gums with regular brushing, flossing,
and checkups so that the root(s) of the restored tooth are nourished
by the surrounding tissues, your restored tooth can last a
Most of the time, a root canal is a relatively simple procedure
with little or no discomfort involving one to three visits.
Best of all, it can save your tooth and your smile!