Composite fillings are a desirable alternative to mercury fillings in that they are aesthetically attractive, environmentally non-toxic, and they are stronger because they bond directly to the tooth, protecting it from future fracturing. A composite filling is a quartz-like material that is the color of a tooth, so that you can maintain a beautiful, white smile.
If your tooth has become damaged by decay and is in need of a filling, the first step is for us to remove the decay and clean your tooth. Tooth-colored filling material is then layered onto your tooth, hardened with an intensive light, and shaped and polished to match your tooth. The final result matches your natural smile seamlessly.
The quality of the composite material makes it more expensive than mercury fillings, and the restoration is also more complicated. However, in the long run, this initial higher investment is offset by the health benefits and the reduced likelihood of needing to restore potentially fractured teeth in the future.
Crowns (also referred to as caps) are needed when a tooth is badly decayed or fractured to the point that a regular filling won’t solve the problem. Crowns also are used to protect and strengthen the teeth when damage and decay has made it so that there is not enough tooth structure to support large fillings or prevent future fractures.
If you are in need of a crown, the first step will be to remove the decay and clean your tooth. We will then create a mold of the surface so that a model of your tooth can be created and an accurate crown that will fit your tooth can be made in a special laboratory. Once this custom-made crown is created, we will prepare the surface of your tooth and cement the crown onto it.
One of the biggest advantages of a crown is that it is incredibly strong. Crowns protect and strengthen the remaining tooth structure and often they can help prevent other future procedures that can be more costly, such as root canals, bridges, or implants. While crowns are highly durable, they will eventually need to be re-cemented or replaced due to normal wear.
A dental bridge is an excellent way to replace a missing tooth, both functionally and cosmetically. A bridge is a single appliance that is typically attached to two teeth on each side of the space where a tooth is missing. An artificial tooth is attached to the middle of the bridge, therefore filling in the gap where the missing tooth was. It works very similar to natural teeth.
Bridges can also be used to make aesthetic improvements to your entire mouth/jaw area in the case of missing teeth. Bridges can greatly improve functionality with bite and jaw joint problems and chewing ability. Bridges can also be a more permanent solution than dentures. Unlike dentures, a fixed bridge is never removed.
In preparation for a bridge, the teeth on either side of the gap are generally prepared with crowns (see our section on crowns), and an impression is made of the area so that a custom-made bridge can be prepared for you in a special laboratory. The bridge is then cemented onto the prepared surface of your teeth, effectively creating the appearance of a “new” tooth.
Alternately, a resin-bonded bridge is sometimes used where the two teeth on each side of the gap are not prepared for crowns. In this case, the bridge consists of a false tooth with metal brackets on the back of each side of the gap. The brackets are then attached to the backs of your real teeth on each side.
Bridges are highly durable, but eventually they will need to be re-cemented or replaced as a result of normal wear. In some cases, the use of a bridge may not be feasible, and the best alternative solution is a dental implant.
Dental implants are used to replace teeth that you have lost to decay, gum disease, or injury. They can be both restorative and cosmetic in nature, returning full function to your mouth and also giving you a smile that you’re excited to show the world. Sometimes implants are used in conjunction with bridgework and crowns. Dr. Huff offers a variety of implant options. To read more about his background and methodology, please visit our implants page.
Root canal therapy is an excellent way to save a decayed tooth that would otherwise die and need to be removed. Root canal therapy can solve your chronic pain issues and stop the infection from spreading to other teeth.
Every tooth has a pulp chamber inside it that holds the nerves and blood supply for your tooth. When the pulp becomes infected, this infected pulp needs to be removed from the center of your tooth and the canals of each root. Once the infected pulp has been removed, the remaining chamber is filled in with a rubber-based material, which seals it off. Your tooth is then protected with a tooth-like artificial covering known as a crown (see crown section.) This is a necessary protective measure, because teeth that have had the pulp removed are more susceptible to fracture.
The only real alternative to root canal therapy is to remove the sick tooth. However, this will require a dental implant or bridge to fill the empty space and prevent surrounding teeth from shifting. These solutions will ultimately cost more than the root canal therapy, and they won’t equal the quality of keeping your natural tooth.