For a lot of people, having teeth that are in a poor state of repair is a daily reality, one that proves to be an ongoing battle that affects every aspect of daily living. Teeth that are broken or compromised in structure can cause infection, extreme pain and the further loss of healthy tissue. In addition to the physical pitfalls, teeth that are missing and unsightly can cause low self esteem and a lack of confidence. This introversion has the power to affect one's mental health as well as their physical well-being.
There are many reasons as to why teeth may be in a bad state of repair; poor oral hygiene, lifestyle risk factors such as smoking, medical conditions, specific medications and a lack of regular visits to the dentist will all be detrimental to a person's overall dental health. If a problem arises and no course of action is sought, the problem will increase. The best and only course of action is to seek out good dental care. Restorative dentistry is a practice that has helped many people who believed their teeth and dental health were beyond repair.
What Is Restorative Dentistry?
Restorative dentistry is a specialist practice that encompasses the specialities of prosthodontics, orthodontics, endodontics and periodontics. The overall aim of this dentistry practice is to restore the mouth and teeth to an optimal state, both functionally and aesthetically. Where possible, a restorative dentist will try to retain as much of the natural tooth/teeth as they can. However, this may not always be possible and a synthetic option may be required. Restorative dentistry incorporates many procedures, from the simple to the technically complex, and may also require multi disciplinary involvement (input from other medical professionals/specialities).
There are many procedures that may be utilised in the practice of restorative dentistry. The simplicity or complexity of treatment plans will depend upon individual cases.
Restorative dentists may use various techniques to treat gum disease. There are many procedures available, but which ones are suitable will depend on the individual and the progression of the gum disease.
- Gingivitis is the initial stage of gum disease (or periodontal disease) and is treated by regular cleanings with a dental hygienist.
- Periodontitis is the advanced stage of periodontal disease, that has progressed to bone loss.
Restorative dentistry may incorporate the use of scaling and root planting, pocket elimination or guided bone and gum regeneration, as a means of restoring teeth and gum health and preventing tooth loss. Good periodontal treatment is vital in some restorative treatment plans and individual procedures will be based on a thorough evaluation of individual gum health.
While traditional fillings are seen as a common procedure, they are vital in restoring a mouth to optimal health. The dentist removes the decayed tissue from the tooth, cleans the cavity and fills the tooth with a suitable material. Fillings are available in gold, amalgam or composite resin. Filling a tooth will prevent its further decay and ultimately the loss of the tooth. In addition, the surrounding teeth are protected and functionality restored to that area of the mouth. A restorative dentist may employ the use of traditional fillings for teeth that are not in need of more extensive restoration.
Endodontic treatment,s or root canal treatments, are required when the root of a tooth has sustained damage, either through decay, disease or other trauma. The pulp of the tooth becomes infected and eventually causes the destruction of the nerve in the tooth. This can lead to sensitivity, extreme pain, infection, abscess (puss forming at the end of the root of the tooth) and subsequently, bone and tooth loss. A root canal treatment can save a tooth that may otherwise require extraction.
The infected tissue will be removed, the root will be cleaned, and a root filling performed. The tooth can then be restored to optimal functionality and appearance.
Orthodontic treatments often use braces to realign the teeth, close gaps in the mouth and correct conditions such as overbite and overcrowding of the mouth. Many make the mistake of believing this is a purely cosmetic procedure. Whilst it is true that orthodontic braces will improve the appearance of teeth, they also have a drastic contribution to the overall health of the mouth. Poorly aligned teeth are more susceptible to decay and therefore cavities, and gaps between teeth in the mouth are more likely to result in damage to the surrounding healthy teeth.
A specialist may use orthodontic braces as a component of a treatment plan. There are many different options of brace available from removable to fixed, and even the increasingly popular invisible braces. The most suitable option will vary from individual to individual.
Dental implants are used to replace a missing tooth or teeth. Unlike a traditional denture, dental implants can be permanently anchored in place. A titanium screw is implanted into the jaw bone and the crown (visible part of the tooth) is attached or screwed on. For multiple implants, titanium screws will be used to fix a denture or bridge to the jaw bone. Implants can be used to replace a singular tooth or a whole dentition. This procedure will be carried out under anaesthetic and the timeframe for completion will depend on the individual case.
On occasion, for individuals who have existing, extensive bone loss, a bone graft may be required prior to the insertion of implants. A restorative dentist will seek input from a multidisciplinary team for this procedure and will work closely with an oral or maxillofacial surgeon to ensure successful completion of the treatment plan.
The benefits of having dental implants inserted are numerous: Functionality is restored; aesthetics are enhanced; and the dental implant will prevent the loss of bone mass which occurs in the area where a tooth is missing, which in turn prevents the demise of the surrounding teeth.