Endodontic (Root Canal) Therapy
When the nerve of your tooth becomes infected, it is necessary to remove the “pulp” and tooth decay in order to save your tooth. Root canal therapy is designed to save teeth so that extractions and partial dentures or implants can be avoided. After the infected tissue is removed, the tooth is sealed and restored. Because a root canal tooth no longer has a vital nerve, it can become brittle. For this reason, a crown is usually placed on the tooth to protect it from breaking down.
Composite fillings have replaced silver fillings (amalgams) for a number of reasons. They are stronger and look like the enamel of the tooth. They are sometimes referred to as resin fillings. While they are less expensive than porcelain crowns, they will not last as long due to the nature of the materials and discoloration. However, in many cases, they are an excellent choice to restore a decayed tooth that does not need a full crown.
Bridges replace missing teeth but unlike partial dentures and dentures, bridges are fixed in the mouth (cannot be removed). There are several types, including conventional fixed bridges, cantilever bridges and resin-bonded bridges. The teeth on each side of the missing tooth or teeth are shaped and crowned. An artificial tooth (or teeth) called a pontic is then attached to the adjacent crowns. Resin bonded bridges are often used for front teeth because they require less shaping of adjacent teeth. The health of the existing teeth and gums must be considered when choosing the type of crown to be placed in the mouth. In many cases, the existing teeth must be built back up before they can be used as support teeth. This is called a crown build-up. Impressions are taken after the teeth have been prepared for the bridge and the tooth color is chosen so that it matches perfectly with your existing teeth. We often suggest that the patient bleach the existing teeth so that we can choose the whitest shade for the bridge. A temporary bridge is made at the same visit as the final impressions and a permanent porcelain bridge is adjusted and seated at a second visit.
Dental Inlays and Onlays
Sometimes, teeth need a restoration that is more extensive than a filling but less extensive than a crown. Inlays are bonded to the tooth in the exact space that was removed as decay. Onlays are similar to inlays; they just cover more of the tooth surface.
Dentures and Partials
Partial dentures replace missing teeth with natural looking artificial teeth. These artificial teeth are attached to a structure with precision clips and then attached to adjacent teeth. They fill in the gaps due to missing teeth. Partial dentures can be removed from the mouth.Full dentures are a complete set of custom made teeth. If partial dentures are not an option due to the number of missing teeth, full dentures give you the look of natural white teeth. Because they are custom made to your mouth, they slide over your gums and remain in place by suction and cheek muscles.
In some cases, composite bonding can give discolored, misshapen, or chipped teeth a new and beautiful look. Though not as durable as porcelain, new materials have enabled dentists to give teeth a natural, beautiful look, giving patients a brand new smile.
Porcelain crowns are used for posterior (back teeth) or teeth that have structural issues. They cover the entire tooth and are a good choice when your existing teeth have healthy roots. Impressions are taken and temporary crowns placed until the second visit, when the crowns are seated permanently.
Porcelain veneers are similar to porcelain crowns except that they are thinner and therefore require very little shaping of existing teeth. Though they are thin, they are durable and can be cemented to a resurfaced tooth with a bonding agent. Veneers look incredibly natural and can cover a myriad of cosmetic problems. Porcelain mimics the natural enamel of the tooth, giving it the translucency that we see in beautiful natural teeth.
Apicoectomy or root-end resection
When the inflammation or infection persists in the bony area around the end of your tooth after endodontic treatment, your endodontist may perform an apicoectomy. In this procedure, the endodontist opens the gum tissue near the tooth to expose the underlying root, and the infected tissue is removed. The very end of the root is removed and a small filling is placed at the root end to seal the root canal. Local anesthetics make the procedure comfortable, and most patients return to their normal activities the next day.