Almost everyone will experience tooth decay at some point in his or her life. Swift detection and correction of tooth decay can minimize the significant expenses and inconveniences associated with more serious problems caused by tooth decay. Restorative dentistry treats all phases of tooth decay, from simple cavity fillings to entire tooth replacements.
Used by dentists for more than a century, dental amalgam is the most thoroughly researched and tested restorative material among all those in use. It is durable, easy to use, highly resistant to wear and relatively inexpensive in comparison to other materials. For those reasons, it remains a valued treatment option for dentists and their patients.
Dental amalgam is a stable alloy made by combining elemental mercury, silver, tin, copper and possibly other metallic elements. Although dental amalgam continues to be a safe, commonly used restorative material, some concern has been raised because of its mercury content. However, the mercury in amalgam combines with other metals to render it stable and safe for use in filling teeth.
While questions have arisen about the safety of dental amalgam relating to its mercury content, the major U.S. and international scientific and health bodies, including the National Institutes of Health, the U.S. Public Health Service, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Food and Drug Administration and the World Health Organization, among others have been satisfied that dental amalgam is a safe, reliable and effective restorative material.
Because amalgam fillings can withstand very high chewing loads, they are particularly useful for restoring molars in the back of the mouth where chewing load is greatest. They are also useful in areas where a cavity preparation is difficult to keep dry during the filling replacement, such as in deep fillings below the gum line. Amalgam fillings, like other filling materials, are considered biocompatible—they are well tolerated by patients with only rare occurrences of allergic response.
Disadvantages of amalgam include possible short-term sensitivity to hot or cold after the filling is placed. The silver-colored filling is not as natural looking as one that is tooth-colored, especially when the restoration is near the front of the mouth, and shows when the patient laughs or speaks. And to prepare the tooth, the dentist may need to remove more tooth structure to accommodate an amalgam filling than for other types of fillings.
Composite fillings are a mixture of glass or quartz filler in a resin medium that produces a tooth-colored filling. They are sometimes referred to as composites or filled resins. Composite fillings provide good durability and resistance to fracture in small-to-mid size restorations that need to withstand moderate chewing pressure. Less tooth structure is removed when the dentist prepares the tooth, and this may result in a smaller filling than that of an amalgam. Composites can also be "bonded" or adhesively held in a cavity, often allowing the dentist to make a more conservative repair to the tooth.
The cost is moderate and depends on the size of the filling and the technique used by the dentist to place it in the prepared tooth. It generally takes longer to place a composite filling than what is required for an amalgam filling. Composite fillings require a cavity that can be kept clean and dry during filling and they are subject to stain and discoloration over time.
Inlays & Onlays
Inlays and Onlays are lab-made restorations that are placed on teeth when the cavity or lost tooth structure is too large to be restored by a simple filling. The process of making an inlay is very similar to a crown. After the tooth is prepared, it is cemented or bonded to the tooth.
There are different materials that inlays are made of, including gold, porcelain, and composite resins. Porcelain and composite inlays and onlays are cosmetic alternatives to fillings and are very strong compared to regular white fillings. Gold inlays and onlays are also suitable alternatives, but their appearance makes them less popular.
Your dentist will explain when an inlay or onlay is a viable treatment option for you. In general, inlays and onlays can replace most back teeth fillings and are sometimes cosmetically preferred over conventional fillings. At the same time, they are more conservative than crowns.
The process of making an inlay or onlay is similar to a crown, therefore its cost is also comparable. But when considering the longevity of inlays and onlays, they can end up costing less than traditional fillings.
The terms dental crowns and caps are synonymous. Crowns are typically used to restore a tooth's function and appearance following a restorative procedure such as a root canal. When decay in a tooth has become so advanced that large portions of the tooth must be removed, crowns are often used to restore the tooth. Crowns are also used to attach bridges, cover implants, or to prevent a cracked tooth from becoming worse. Crowns also serve an aesthetic use, and are applied when a discolored or stained tooth needs to be restored to its natural appearance. Crowns are fabricated in a laboratory and are made either of porcelain baked onto a metal substrate, all-porcelain, or many of the new ceramic materials that have been developed.
A bridge replaces a missing tooth or teeth. It is called a fixed bridge because it is not removable.
A bridge is a structure, supported by teeth on either side of a space. It spans the gap between teeth, just as a bridge spans a river.
Root Canal Therapy
Our endodontists have performed over 20,000 successful root canals, so you know you’re in the best of hands. With this procedure, we gently remove the infected or inflamed pulp and then carefully shape and sterilize the inside of the canal with nickel-titanium rotary instruments. The canal is filled and sealed with a biocompatible material called gutta-percha. For your comfort, we use virtually silent electric handpieces that work with minimum vibration. In addition, our piezoelectric ultrasonic equipment features diamond-coated tips, the small size of which preserves the tooth’s structure and provides more precise treatment.
We can perform most root canals in a single visit; the more complex cases require a second appointment. Once your root canal therapy has been completed, we will send a written report, along with post-treatment X-ray images, to your referring dentist. You should not chew or bite on the treated tooth until your dentist provides you with a permanent restoration. We also perform root canal retreatment, if necessary, thereby avoiding surgical intervention.