What is restorative dental care?
Put simply, restorative dental care refers to treatments that restore the structure, integrity, and/or function of a damaged tooth or teeth. This damage can range from tooth decay to an injury (chipping and other external trauma, for example). The primary aim of restorative dental treatment is to bring the tooth or teeth back to their normal function and appearance.
The timeline for restorative dental treatment is usually hard to guess. This is because many factors play a role in how a procedure will play out, such as the extent of damage to the tooth, how difficult the procedure will be, and how comfortable the patient feels during the process.
Why is restorative dental care important?
Badly decaying teeth can adversely affect your appearance, self-esteem, and even your overall health (not just your oral health). Replacing and/or fixing decaying teeth can help maintain good oral health by preventing plaque build-up.
Filling open or damaged spots in vacant areas of the mouth is essential to keeping teeth properly aligned. And, believe it or not, replacing missing teeth can put far less pressure on remaining teeth when eating. The more teeth there are, the easier it will be to chew and the less plaque build-up there will be on the natural teeth.
What happens during treatment?
Before your restorative treatment can get started your dentist will examine your teeth and gums and may take X-rays to help get a complete picture of your oral health and diagnose your issue.
Treatments vary among individuals and your treatment will be targeted to address your specific oral health concern. A small amount of damage may only require a minimally-invasive treatment that can be performed in a single visit.
If, on the other hand, the damage is much more extensive it will require a more complex procedure, and treatment may need to be performed over multiple visits. Again, depending on the patient, specialists, such as a prosthodontist, endodontist or maxillofacial surgeon, might need to be called in to provide advanced care.
During the procedure, your dentist might use different types of anesthesia so that you don't feel any pain. They might also use anesthesia to calm your anxiety or fears.
Most dental restoration procedures are classified as either direct or indirect. Direct procedures usually involve repairs done inside the mouth. Indirect procedures are done outside the mouth and then attached to the tooth or the tooth structure. Your dentist will determine what procedure is best for you.
While this may sound like a complex treatment option, a direct restoration is simply another name for a filling. With direct restoration, your dentist usually places a mouldable substance inside of a cleaned tooth cavity. This material will harden and restore the tooth's structure. Materials commonly used for dental fillings include silver amalgam, composite and glass ionomer.
With indirect restorations, construction happens outside the mouth. There is usually much more work involved with indirect restorations, but the results are usually more stable and long-lasting. It can also restore the overall look of your teeth. Some common examples of indirect restorations include veneers, crowns & bridges, implants, and inlays & onlays.