What is restorative dental care?
Put simply, restorative dental care refers to treatments that restore the structure, integrity, and/or function of a damaged tooth or teeth. This damage can range from decay to injury (chipping and other external trauma, for example). The goal of restorative dental treatment is to bring the tooth or teeth back to their normal function.
The timeline for restorative dental treatment is usually hard to guess. This is because many factors play a role in how a procedure will play out, such as the extent of damage to the tooth, how difficult the procedure will be, and how comfortable the patient feels during the process.
Why is restorative dental care important?
To put it simply, badly decaying teeth can adversely affect your appearance, self-esteem, and even your overall health (not just your oral health). Replacing and/or fixing decaying teeth can help maintain good oral health by preventing plaque build-up. Further, filling open or damaged spots in vacant areas of the mouth is important for keeping teeth well-aligned. And, believe it or not, replacing missing teeth can put far less pressure on remaining teeth when eating. The more teeth there are, the easier it will be to chew and the less plaque build-up there will be on the natural teeth.
What happens during treatment?
Before treatment even begins, it's likely your dentist will diagnose your condition using a variety of means, including x-rays and a thorough examination of your mouth.
But treatment will vary among individuals. Sometimes the treatment, if there isn't too much damage and the treatment is minimally-invasive, will only require a single dental appointment. Other times, when the damage is much more extensive and thus requires a more complex procedure, treatment will likely require more visits. Again, depending on the patient, specialists, such as a prosthodontist, endodontist or maxillofacial surgeon, might need to be called in.
During the procedure, your dentist might use different types of anesthesia so that you don't feel any pain. They might also use anesthesia to calm your anxiety or fears.
Most dental restoration procedures are classified as either direct or indirect. Direct procedures usually involve repairs done inside the mouth. Indirect procedures are done outside the mouth and then attached to the tooth or the tooth structure. Your dentist will determine what procedure is best for you.
Another word for this common procedure is 'fillings.' With direct restoration, your dentist usually places a mouldable substance inside of a cleaned tooth cavity. This material will harden and restore the tooth's structure. Common materials used for fillings include silver amalgam, composite fillings, and glass ionomer fillings.
With indirect restorations, construction happens outside the mouth. There is usually much more work involved with indirect restorations, but the results are usually more stable and long-lasting. It can also restore the overall look of your teeth. Some common examples of indirect restorations include veneers, crowns & bridges, implants, and inlays & onlays.