When teeth form, they often develop with small defects called pits and fissures. These defects can act as a trap for bacteria, which fosters dental decay. To protect against decay beginning in these pits and fissures, a sealant may be placed as a protective barrier. A sealant consists of a resin material that is placed directly in the pits and fissures of the tooth. These sealants protect the tooth from dental decay originating in these areas.
Dental plaque is a film that forms on the teeth. Residing within the plaque is an assortment of bacteria, which, when combined with sugars and starches, results in the secretion of acids. When a tooth is exposed to an acidic environment for extended periods of time, dental decay can occur. Dental decay is often referred to as a “Cavity”, or a hole in the tooth. If not treated in a timely fashion, decay can spread to the pulp of the tooth where the nerve resides, which may result in the need for a Root Canal Treatment.
We treat cavities using a direct filling using a material called Composite. Composite is a white filling material that is bonded to sound tooth structure. These composite fillings, if taken care of well, can protect the tooth against the further spread of dental decay.
A tooth that has been weakened through decay or trauma often needs to be reinforced by placing a crown over the tooth. A crown is used to cover and protect the damaged tooth. A crown can also be placed over a tooth that is misshapen or poorly aligned to improve esthetics. Crowns can be fabricated using metal or porcelain, or a combination of both using a technique to fuse the porcelain to a metal framework – Porcelain Fused to Metal (PFM).
Root Canal Treatment
When decay extends to the pulp or the nerve of the tooth, endodontic treatment will most likely be necessary. During endodontic treatment, commonly referred to as a root canal, the infected and diseased pulp of the tooth is removed from within the roots. The roots are cleaned, shaped, and filled with a rubbery material called Gutta Percha.
If an infected tooth does not have a root canal performed in a timely fashion, the infection can spread to the surrounding bone and can often lead to tooth loss.
Because a root canal treatment requires extensive preparation of the tooth, a crown is often required to avoid fracture of the existing tooth structure and to ensure longevity of the tooth.
Replacing Missing Teeth
There are three main ways missing teeth can be replaced: an Implant, a Bridge, or a Removable Partial Denture.
Bridges have traditionally been the gold standard solution for missing teeth. A bridge depends on using the teeth surrounding the empty space as anchorage to support a prosthetic tooth. While bridges can be a very good and quick option for replacing missing teeth, without proper care, they can prove to be a liability. However, with proper care, they can last for a very long time.
In recent years, Dental Implants have replaced bridges as the gold standard for replacing missing teeth. Not having to rely on the surrounding teeth for anchorage, an implant allows for a 1:1 replacement of the tooth without the need to modify adjacent teeth. Dental Implants generally have a very high success rate and often prove to be the best option available to replace missing teeth. While Dental Implants are often the preferred method with the best outcome, to achieve ideal integration and stability, it can take up to a few months before the tooth can predictably restored.