Dental fillings can be used to restore decayed, damaged or worn teeth. There are usually two types of fillings dentists use; tooth coloured fillings or amalgam (silver coloured) fillings. Modern dentistry has come a long way since the inception of the tooth-coloured filling, meaning they durable for a long time and can be applied in many situations. However, not all teeth can be repaired with a filling alone and some will need more extensive coverage with a crown.
Crowns, bridges and veneers
A dental crown is a cover for a natural tooth. It can strengthen a tooth when it is severely decayed, broken down, worn or cracked. This ensures longevity out of the tooth and minimises the risk of fracture. It can be made out of porcelain, metal or porcelain fused to metal. A crown can also be used to improve the aesthetics of a tooth or multiple teeth, especially when teeth are heavily worn or discoloured.
A dental bridge is when there is a missing tooth to be replaced with a false tooth, however it can be attached to one or more teeth either side of the gap. It is usually made out of porcelain or porcelain glued to metal. It can be a good long-term option for one missing tooth, however is not appropriate when the surrounding teeth are not health.
Porcelain veneers involves covering the natural tooth structure with a thin piece of porcelain, usually on the front and biting surface of the tooth only. Differing from crowns, veneers usually only cover the part of the tooth that is visible, thus being a more conservative way of improving the look of the tooth without compromising too much of the healthy tooth structure. They can be a good long-lasting alternative to fillings, as they are less likely to stain and fracture. They do cost substantially more than a filling however, as they are long lasting, more aesthetic and require the assistance of a laboratory to manufacture them as well as multiple design and preparation appointments.
Root canal therapy
Root canal therapy involves the chemical and mechanical removal of a tooth’s nerve or nerves in order to treat pain or infection. A root canal therapy may be needed to save the tooth when there is deep decay, trauma or a crack in the tooth that has progressed deeper towards the nerve.
The procedure usually involves 2 – 3 appointments, the first appointment resulting in relief of pain. At the conclusion of the root canal therapy, often a dental crown is needed to cover and protect the tooth from fracture, especially when it is a chewing tooth. Without this final step, there is minimal guarantee that the root canal treated tooth will survive fracture or new decay.
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