As the saying goes, there is more than one way to skin a cat (although we don’t know anyone who would want to). Likewise, there is more than one way to fix a tooth. If you are like most of us, you will probably need to restore a tooth eventually. This post from the Mt. Vernon Center for Dentistry in Alexandria VA looks at six restoration procedures that are used routinely to repair damaged teeth.
A Porcelain Veneer
These wafer-thin covers can hide a chip or crack or repair the alignment of a tooth that is slightly crooked.
A Filling, Inlay, or Onlay
This procedure has been used to restore teeth for over a century, though the materials and techniques have advanced. One fairly new option is white filling replacement for metal fillings. A traditional filling is shaped and molded after it is applied to the tooth.
Because inlays and onlays are fabricated in a dental lab, they are ordinarily called indirect fillings. Inlays are applied to just the center of the biting surface of a tooth (not to a cusp or point) and are commonly smaller than onlays. An onlay restores one or more cusps of a tooth.
Bonding is used to repair chips, cracks, stains, and make teeth longer. It is also sometimes used to fill cavities. A skilled cosmetic dentist applies pliable composite resin and molds it to the exact shape required. The resin is then hardenend with a special curing light.
A Dental Crown
A crown replaces the entire visible portion of the tooth, restoring appearance, strength, and function. Crowns are used for teeth that have had a root canal, teeth with severe decay, the replacement tooth in a dental bridge, and the visible portion of a dental implant. Crowns can be made of all metal (such as gold), porcelain-fused-to-metal, all ceramic, or all resin.
Many dentists consider dental implants to be the ultimate restoration because they restore the entire tooth, both root and crown. Most dental implant recipients report that the implant is indistinguishable from a natural tooth. Another benefit is the fact that an implant can prohibit bone recession which is common at an extraction site. Dental implants are used in a variety of applications such as anchoring dentures and dental bridges.