Tooth Colored Fillings
Tooth colored fillings (composite resins) have been used to restore front teeth for over 50 years. However, the earliest composite resins were not strong enough to withstand the forces and wear generated by chewing on the back teeth. Advancements in materials and techniques have greatly improved the durability of the tooth colored fillings. In terms of comfort, preservation of natural tooth structure, strength and esthetics, composite resins now represent the state-of-the-art in dental restorations. See Photos
Composite resins are a mixture of plastic and glass that are bonded to the tooth with an adhesive. Composites are non-metallic and use the adhesive to seal off the underlying tooth structure, resulting in less sensitivity to temperatures. The composite adhesive also adds strength and support to the remaining tooth structure, reducing the chance of tooth fracture.
Composite resins are not only used to restore decayed areas, but are also used for cosmetic improvements by changing the color of teeth, closing spaces and reshaping disfigured teeth.
A crown is a restoration that covers, or “caps” a tooth to restore the tooth to normal size, shape and function. Dr. Lori Holcomb will evaluate your tooth and give you a recommendation on the type of crown that would work for you. Types include all porcelain crowns, gold crowns or porcelain fused to metal crowns.
Crowns are necessary when a tooth is generally broken down and a filling will not fix the problem. Crowns are used to reinforce a large filling when there is not enough tooth structure left and to protect weak teeth from fracturing. Crowns also restore fractured teeth, by holding the tooth together and sealing the cracks. Crowns also can cover badly shaped or discolored teeth.
Fitting a crown requires at least two appointments. Initially, we will remove decay, place a buildup filling if necessary, shape the tooth, take impressions and make a temporary crown for you. At your second appointment, we will cement the new crown for you.
A bridge is a series of crowns joined together that replaces one or more missing teeth, thereby, “bridging” the space between teeth. Bridges are cemented into place over the anchor teeth; the teeth on either side of the space where a tooth is missing. A false tooth, or teeth, is suspended between the anchor teeth to fill the space. Bridges are permanently cemented in place and you will use a special flosser to clean under the false tooth.
If you are missing any teeth and are committed to maintaining good oral hygiene, you may be a good candidate for a bridge. A bridge is one of the most natural choices to fill the space in your mouth left by missing teeth. If left unfilled, this space can cause the surrounding teeth to drift out of position and can cause teeth to become more susceptible to decay or fracture. Shifting teeth can also lead to gum disease and further tooth loss. Bridges not only stabilize your arch to prevent drifting, but also correct an altered bite and improve your chewing ability and speech. Bridges also safeguard your appearance by preventing the collapse of your facial features that can cause premature wrinkles and age lines.
A bridge typically is finished in two appointments. At the first visit, we will reshape the support teeth that will act as anchors. Impressions are made from which the bridge is created. At the second appointment, the bridge is cemented after any adjustments are made, if needed.
Alternatives that we offer for replacing missing teeth other than bridges, include implants and removable partial dentures. If there are not enough neighboring teeth to act as anchors, or if the neighboring teeth would make poor anchors, Dr. Lori Holcomb may recommend an implant. An implant is an artificial tooth root, which is placed in the jaw. The implant can then serve as support for a crown or denture. A removable partial denture consists of either a metal or acrylic framework into which denture teeth are set. The partial denture fits over or around your natural teeth and is removable.
A dental implant is an artificial tooth root made of titanium or ceramic materials that are compatible with body tissues. An implant is placed in the jaw to serve as a man-made root. Your natural bone fuses with the implant to create a rock solid connection that exceeds the strength of a natural tooth to bone connection. The implant or implants can then serve as support for a crown, bridge, partial or full denture. Implants are free-standing and don’t rely on adjacent teeth for support. Implants cannot get decay and are virtually pain-free before and after their placement. Implants are extremely long lasting and trouble free.
Implants take several weeks to months to integrate with your natural bone. Once this is complete, you will see Dr. Holcomb for you permanent restoration.
Bone in the area where the implant is to be placed must be wide enough, tall enough and dense enough to support the implant. People with compromised immune systems, smokers and people who grind may have a lower success rate with implant placement.
Implants need to be kept clean with brushing and flossing as a natural tooth would need. Poor oral hygiene can lead to implant loss.