What are dental restorations?
Restorations are the various ways your dentist can replace or restore missing teeth or missing parts of the tooth structure. Tooth structure can be missing due to decay, deterioration (weakening) of a previously placed restoration, or fracture of a tooth. Examples of restorations include the following:
- Fillings are the most common type of dental restoration. Teeth can be filled with gold, silver amalgam, or tooth-colored plastic and glass materials called composite resin fillings.
- Crowns are a tooth-shaped “cap” that is placed over a tooth to restore its shape and size, strength, appearance, to hold a bridge in place, or to cover a dental implant. Teeth frequently need to be reduced evenly around the tooth so that the crown will perfectly restore the size and shape of the tooth. This is a long process and may involve an impression that is sent to the lab, with a temporary filling/crown in the meantime. Some offices have technology in which a digital impression is sent to a milling machine that will fabricate a crown in the office, sometimes in one visit.
- Bridges are false teeth that are designed to "bridge" the gap created by one or more missing teeth. Bridges can be anchored on either side by crowns and cemented permanently into place.
- Implants are replacement tooth roots. Implants are actually a small post made of metal (usually of titanium or a titanium mixture) that are placed into the bone socket where teeth are missing. The implant may need an attachment called an abutment that will act like a crown preparation. It is then covered with a crown.
- Dentures are a removable replacement for missing teeth and surrounding tissues. They are made of acrylic resin, sometimes combined with metal attachments. Complete dentures replace all the teeth. Partial dentures are considered when some natural teeth remain, and are retained by metal clasps attached to the natural teeth.