CROWNS Crowns are full coverage restorations that are used to cover a tooth that is likely to break, or is too broken down to be restored with a filling. They are most commonly done for broken teeth, when a large filling breaks down, or to strengthen a tooth following root canal therapy. The larger the hole made by a cavity that has to be treated, the more likely a crown will be needed. Even after a filling is put in a large cavity, a tooth is more likely to break. Keep in mind that the jaw muscles are the strongest in the human body. Teeth are subjected to tremendous pressures. Crowns completely cover the weakened tooth, providing strength and protecting the tooth against breakage. A broken or cracked tooth is a far more serious matter and much more difficult to treat. Crowns prevent this, as well as making for a nice smile.
It takes two appointments to restore a tooth with a crown. In the first any decay is removed from the tooth, if necessary it is built up and then it is shaped to accept the crown. Then an impression is made of the tooth for use in fabricating a crown. Between the two visits the crown is made, usually of high-strength porcelain over gold alloy, all ceramic material, or gold. During this time a temporary crown is worn. In the second visit this temporary is removed. Then the permanent crown is adjusted as needed and then cemented in place.
BRIDGES This is an option for filling the space created by a missing tooth. The sides of a bridge use the two surrounding teeth for support, hence the name. A bridge replaces the missing tooth, both functionally and cosmetically. The materials used may be gold alloys, porcelain bonded to metal alloy, or all ceramic material. The choice of material depends on requirements for strength, wear, and/or esthetics.
It is important that a missing tooth be replaced as soon as possible for several reasons. If not treated the teeth surrounding the gap begin to shift inward, creating a whole chain reaction of bad things. Teeth use their neighbors for support, and, with one missing, they start to "fall." As this worsens the bite changes in response to the pressure. This can eventually result in problems with the entire jaw. The surrounding teeth deteriorate and it is just a matter of time before they, too, are lost. Gum disease becomes a serious problem, with the difficulty of treatment increasing as the neglect continues.
DENTURES There are different types of dentures, but they share their common function. They replace multiple missing teeth when bridges or implants are not an option.
The entire mouth is examined and a determination is made as to which teeth will have to be removed, and which will remain. The teeth are then extracted. Dentures are fitted to go over or around whatever teeth remain in the mouth, if any, depending on the type. There is an adjustment period after dentures are placed in the mouth, and it can take some getting used to. But once accustomed to the dentures, much of the normal functionality and appearance return. Often implants can be used to further stabilize the dentures.
IMPLANTS A dental implant is an option to replace a missing tooth. In this procedure, a small piece of titanium is surgically implanted into the bone and allowed to set. The bone grows around it forming a tight connection, which additionally slows or stops the bone loss that occurs when the root of a natural tooth is missing. Once the implant is firmly set in the mouth, the dentist makes a replacement tooth that attaches to the implant. This permanent solution has the advantages over bridge work that it does not stress the surrounding teeth for support, and, should the tooth wear out, another can simply be replaced on the shaft.
Implants can also be used to support a bridge. This is an alternative to partial dentures, and has several advantages. First, there is no adjustment period; once the work is done the patient only feels teeth, not metal supports intruding into the mouth. Second, this slows the bone loss caused by missing teeth. Third, there is no discomfort or difficulty in eating. And, best of all, they don't have to be taken out all the time.
Both new and existing dentures can be stabilized with implants. A nylon connector is inserted into the denture that snaps on to the implant.
ROOT CANAL TREATMENT Root canal treatment (also referred to as root canal therapy or endodontic therapy) is necessary when decay reaches the pulp (nerve tissue) of the tooth. Sometimes deep restorations or trauma to a tooth may cause the nerve to be damaged to the point it needs root canal therapy, also. Once this occurs the pulp becomes infected, and can even extend through the root tip and begin to eat away at the surrounding bone (this is an abscess). By the time the pulp is infected it must be treated, and cannot heal on its own. It can even weaken the entire immune system. This is dangerous, not to mention very painful. Symptoms that the pulp has become infected may include sensitivity to hot/cold or sweets, pain, swelling, pain to biting or pressure, and a bad taste in the mouth. Sometimes, however, no symptoms are apparent and the person is unaware of any problem until a checkup.
A root canal is then performed to clean out the infected tooth pulp, and disinfect the canals of the tooth. The only other treatment would be to extract the tooth. Once the infection is resolved, the canal(s) are filled in to prevent any further infection. Usually a core build-up and crown is recommended for restoring a tooth that has had root canal therapy.
EXTRACTIONS In some cases extractions are necessary. We take every measure to make the experience as comfortable as possible for you. In certain cases, such as wisdom teeth, we may refer you to an oral surgeon.