Bonding is a conservative way to repair slightly chipped, discolored, or crooked teeth. During dental bonding, a white filling is placed onto your tooth to improve its appearance. The filling "bonds" with your teeth, and because it comes in a variety of tooth-colored shades it closely matches the appearance of your natural teeth.
Tooth bonding can also be used for teeth fillings instead of amalgam fillings. Many patients prefer bonding fillings because the white color is much less noticeable than the silver amalgam fillings. Bonding fillings can be used on front and back teeth depending on the location and extent of tooth decay.
Bonding is less expensive than other cosmetic treatments and usually can be completed in one visit to our office. However, bonding can stain and is easier to break than other cosmetic treatments such as porcelain veneers. If it does break or chip, tell your doctor. The bonding can generally be easily patched or repaired in one visit.
A bridge may be used to replace missing teeth, help maintain the shape of your face, and alleviate stress in your bite.
A bridge replaces missing teeth with artificial teeth, looks great, and literally bridges the gap where one or more teeth may have been. Your bridge can be made from gold, alloys, porcelain, or a combination of these materials and is bonded onto surrounding teeth for support.
The success of any bridge depends on its foundation — the other teeth, gums, or bone to which it is attached. Therefore, it's very important to keep your existing teeth, gums, and jaw healthy and strong.
Traditional dental restoratives (fillings) include gold, porcelain, and composite/ amalgam. The strength and durability of traditional dental materials continue to make them useful for situations where restored teeth must withstand extreme forces that result from chewing, such as in the back of the mouth.
Newer dental fillings include ceramic and plastic compounds that mimic the appearance of natural teeth. These compounds, often called composite resins, are usually used on the front teeth where a natural appearance is important. They can be used on the back teeth as well depending on the location and extent of the tooth decay. Composite resins are usually more costly than the older silver amalgam fillings.
What's Right for Me?
Several factors influence the performance, durability, longevity and expense of dental restorations:
- The components used in the filling material
- The amount of tooth structure remaining
- Where and how the filling is placed
- The chewing load that the tooth will have to bear
- The length and number of visits needed to prepare and adjust the restored tooth.
The ultimate decision about what to use is best determined in consultation with your doctor. Before your treatment begins, discuss the options with your doctor. To help you prepare for this discussion it is helpful to understand the two basic types of dental fillings: direct and indirect.
- Direct fillings are fillings placed immediately into a prepared cavity in a single visit. They include dental amalgam, glass ionomers, resin ionomers, and composite (resin) fillings. The dentist prepares the tooth, places the filling, and adjusts it during one appointment.
- Indirect fillings generally require two or more visits. They include inlays, onlays, veneers, crowns, and bridges fabricated with gold, base metal alloys, ceramics, or composites. During the first visit, the dentist prepares the tooth and makes an impression of the area to be restored. The dentist then places a temporary covering over the prepared tooth. The impression is sent to a dental laboratory which creates the dental restoration. At the next appointment, the dentist cements the restoration into the prepared cavity and adjusts it as needed.
If you have missing teeth, it is crucial to replace them. Without all your teeth, chewing and eating can destabilize your bite and cause you discomfort. When teeth are missing, your mouth can shift and even cause your face to look older. Implants are a great way to replace your missing teeth.
An implant is a new tooth made of steel and porcelain that looks just like your natural tooth. Your implant is composed of two parts that mimic a tooth's root and crown. The implant's "root" is a titanium steel rod placed into the jaw bone to act as a root. Once the rod is in place, a porcelain crown is attached to replace the top part of your tooth.
Implants may also be used to anchor dentures, especially lower dentures that tend to shift when you talk or chew. Plus, for patients with removable partial dentures, implants can replace missing teeth so that you have a more natural-looking smile.
There's no reason to put up with gaps in your teeth or with teeth that are stained, discolored, badly shaped, chipped, or crooked. Today, a veneer placed on top of your teeth can correct nature's mistake or the results of an injury and help you have a beautiful smile. Veneers are a highly popular solution among dental patients because of their life-like tooth appearance.
Veneers are thin, custom-made shells crafted of tooth-colored materials (such as porcelain) designed to cover the front side of your teeth. To prepare for veneers, your doctor will create a unique model of your teeth. This model is sent to the dental technician to create your veneers. Before placing your new veneer, your doctor will remove a small amount of your tooth to make room for the veneer.
When placed, you'll be pleased to see that veneers look like your natural teeth and even resist staining. Though veneers are stain resistant, your doctor may recommend that you avoid coffee, tea, red wine, and tobacco to maintain the beauty of your veneer.