It's a broad term, but you can probably guess what dental restorations are. They're basically anything added to a tooth that restores it in appearance or functionality—or both. A tooth-coloured filling is a restoration. So is a dental crown that fits over an entire tooth. Restorations are designed with durability in mind, but they won't last indefinitely, and their appearance is often the first thing to be compromised. Can a dentist wake up a tired-looking restoration?
Many restorations can be restored, but first must closely be inspected. There's no point in touching up a dental restoration that has become defective. For example, if the restoration is a filling, its seal will be inspected. Does it still cover (and protect) the entire cavity? If the restoration is a crown, is it intact and still bonded to the underlying tooth? Provided the restoration is secure, it can usually be touched up.
The prerequisite for touching up a restoration is that it has remained functional. The improvements you're seeking are cosmetic, and so can be performed at a cosmetic dental clinic. Once the functionality of the restoration has been confirmed, your dentist will consider its materials.
Dental restorations can be made from a number of different materials, but there are two that are the most common, ceramic (porcelain) and resin (plastic). Ceramic is often used to make dental crowns or veneers (wafer-thin, tooth-shaped shells bonded to teeth to improve their appearance). Resin is used to make tooth-coloured fillings, and in dental bonding (a coat of resin applied to teeth to conceal imperfections). As the years go by, both ceramic and resin can look tarnished and discoloured, although porcelain has more endurance.
The finish applied to a resin restoration is intended to make it look like part of the tooth's natural surface. As this finish fades, the restoration may look a little conspicuous. A dentist can polish the resin to restore its shine, allowing it to once again mimic the luminescence of natural dental enamel. To get this glossy look, your dentist will use a polishing paste and a handheld bur.
A polishing paste and handheld bur (which rotates at high speed) are also used to restore porcelain, making it look like it's a tooth's natural dental enamel. Ultra-fine diamond paste is often used to achieve this result.
Waking up tired restorations can be surprisingly uncomplicated, so if your crowns, veneers and fillings have seen better days, you might want to consult a cosmetic dentist to have your smile refreshed.
For more information about cosmetic dentistry, contact a local dentist.