When a filling is required, Dr. McDowell and his team can provide aesthetic tooth colored bonded restorations. Closely matched to the color and shape of your surrounding teeth, this procedure protects your teeth while providing a beautiful smile. Amalgam fillings, also known as “silver” fillings, are not aesthetic restorations, but a proven alternative.
While some situations may require this procedure, having the option between amalgam and composite fillings is always a priority for Dr. McDowell’s patients.
After years of use, fillings can start to break down at the edges, which can lead to new decay or weakening of the surrounding tooth structure. If you have received fillings over the years, Dr. McDowell will closely monitor them for any signs of failure.
Disadvantages of Silver Fillings
While popular over many decades, there are many disadvantages to silver fillings. The edges of the filling can wear down, weaken, or break, which can result in recurring decay or fracturing of the tooth. The metal of silver fillings expands and contracts over time, which can cause cracks in teeth. These kinds of fillings can also corrode and cause stains on your teeth and gums.
Advantages of Tooth-Colored Restorations
Tooth-colored/bonded restorations are natural-looking fillings that prevent further tooth decay while strengthening weakened teeth. Generally completed during one office visit, this bonding procedure can significantly improve the appearance of a tooth. Composite restorations come in a variety of shades to match the color of the actual and surrounding tooth structures.
No treatment can replace the benefits of a natural tooth. However, your tooth may need root canal (endodontic) treatment for it to remain a healthy part of your mouth.
A tooth is made of pulp, made of nerve tissue and blood supply, on the inside and enamel and dentin forming the strong outside structure. A root canal is necessary when the pulp inside the tooth develops infection.
The infection can have a variety of causes, including a crack in the tooth, repeated dental work, an old deep large restoration, or deep decay. A tooth that has been injured may also sustain pulp damage even when there are no visible signs on the outside of the tooth. Without treatment, pulp infection can result in pain or lead to an abscess.
A root canal is a treatment that will save your damaged tooth. In this situation, a tooth is restored through removing the infected pulp, treating any remaining infection, and filling the empty root canals with medicated dental materials. Antibiotic treatment may also be required in conjunction with root canal therapy.
Root canal therapy usually involves one office visit for Dr. McDowell to complete. Afterwards, it is essential that you return to have a crown or other restoration placed over the tooth to protect it from fracturing. For the first few days after treatment, your tooth may feel sensitive, but any pain can be relieved with over-the-counter or prescription medications if needed.
Fitting a crown requires two visits to McDowell Family and Cosmetic Dentistry. Initially, Dr. McDowell will get rid of any decay, shape the tooth as needed, and then fit the tooth with a temporary crown.
On the subsequent visit, Dr. McDowell will remove the temporary crown, replacing it with a permanent crown. Once adjusted, if necessary, the permanent crown will be cemented into place and you have a new beautiful looking tooth.
Success in speaking, chewing and in maintaining proper alignment of other teeth requires the presence of all of your teeth. Tooth loss is often attributed to age, but no matter the reason, lost teeth must be replaced to maintain proper function of your mouth. Missing teeth can cause stress for the gums and other oral tissues, resulting in a number of potentially harmful disorders.
Fortunately, there are options for correcting tooth loss. These options include fixed dental bridges, dental implants, and removable partial and full dentures.
A bridge can be used to replace a missing tooth, this missing tooth is known as a pontic. Bridges can reduce your risk of gum disease, help correct some bite issues and even improve your speech.
One of the worst side effects of missing teeth is an increased risk of gum disease. This trend can be minimized with a dental bridge. The bridge attaches artificial teeth to adjacent natural teeth, called abutment teeth.
A fixed bridge involves the placement of crowns on the abutment teeth, or by bonding the artificial teeth directly to the abutment teeth. Dental bridges can be made using porcelain, gold, or a combination of these materials.
Fitting a dental bridge usually takes two appointments to complete. Dr. McDowell will first prepare the teeth on either side of the space by removing a portion of the enamel and dentin. A bridge must be constructed precisely to guarantee correct bite and to match the opposing teeth, so impressions of the teeth are taken and sent to a laboratory. Between appointments, a temporary bridge will be provided to protect the teeth.
Crowns, which are cemented onto the natural teeth, provide support for the bridge. Fixed bridges are cemented to the natural teeth next to the space left by the missing tooth. A pontic (false tooth) replaces the lost tooth.
A strict regimen of brushing and flossing will keep the bridge and surrounding teeth clean. Good dental care of these teeth is critically important, as the bridge relies on the neighboring teeth for support.
Removable Dental Prosthesis
Dentures can replace missing teeth and can be utilized depending on your personal needs:
Partial Dentures – A removable partial denture attaches to your natural teeth with clasps that keep them in place, completing your smile by filling out the spaces created by missing teeth. Partial dentures are constructed of replacement teeth attached to pink or gum-colored plastic bases connected by a metal framework. Your natural teeth are used to support removable partial dentures.
Overdentures – Giving dentures more stability and better fit, an overdenture is a type of denture that is placed over dental implants and typically “snaps” onto the implants.
The alignment of your jaw will slowly change as the bone and gum ridges shrink due to teeth extraction. Dentures will experience wear over time, and will need to be replaced or realigned in order to maintain proper jaw alignment. Regular dental examinations are still important for the denture wearer so that the oral tissues can be checked for any changes or potential gum disease.
Dr. McDowell may determine with you that one of your teeth needs to be extracted, which can occur for a variety of reasons. Some teeth are extracted because they are poorly positioned in the mouth (such as impacted teeth), in preparation for orthodontic treatment, or have broken and cannot be repaired. A tooth may also be severely decayed or have advanced periodontal disease.
The removal of a single tooth can lead to problems involving your other teeth shifting, your ability to chew, and problems with your jaw joint. To avoid these complications, Dr. McDowell will discuss alternatives to extractions as well as replacement of the extracted tooth.
Periodontal disease progressively destroys the gums and jaw bone, which support your natural teeth. Periodontal disease and decay are both caused by bacterial plaque, the yellowish film that sticks to your teeth along your gum line. If allowed to continue to colonize, the increased number of bacterial plaque develops into calculus.
Bacteria found in plaque irritate your gums, which may cause them to turn red, swell and bleed easily. Prolonged irritation causes the gums to separate from the teeth, leading to the formation of pockets, or spaces, between the teeth and gums. As periodontal disease progresses, gum tissue and bone that hold teeth in place deteriorate, which leads to tooth loss if left untreated.
Plaque hardens into a rough, porous substance known as calculus (or tartar) if not consistently removed each day. Periodontal disease is best prevented by thorough daily brushing and flossing of your teeth, along with regular routine visits to see your hygienist.