Restorative dentistry is the study, diagnosis and integrated management of diseases of the teeth and their supporting structures. It also incorporates rehabilitation of the dentition to a functional and aesthetic norm for the particular individual.
Procedures utilized in restorative dentistry include:
- Crown – A type of dental restoration which completely caps or encircles a tooth or dental implant. Crowns are often needed when a large cavity, filling or fracture threatens the integrity of a tooth. They can be made of gold, porcelain, or a combination of the two. Each material has its advantages and disadvantages. The most common crown used is a PFM (porcelain fused to metal) in which porcelain material is baked onto a gold core giving it both strength and aesthetic appeal.
- Bridge – A dental restoration used to replace a missing tooth by joining the “false” tooth/teeth to the adjacent teeth permanently. In constructing a bridge, it is necessary to reduce the teeth on either side of the space to be filled. Longevity of a bridge depends upon the stability of the anchoring teeth in terms of amount of tooth structure and length and mass of their roots.
- Fillings – There are many choices when it comes to restoring damaged or decayed teeth. One may choose to have white, tooth-colored fillings (composite or porcelain) or silver amalgam restorations. In addition to having a more pleasing and natural tooth-like appearance, composite fillings have the advantage of being mercury-free. There has been great controversy over a possible relationship between amalgam fillings and mercury toxicity. However, no research, to date, has shown any definitive, adverse health effects from placement of amalgam fillings. Initially, composite fillings were not as durable as amalgams but dental manufacturers have greatly improved them to the point that they can now be used on all teeth, including molars. Most composite materials are a mix of Bis-GMA monomers and silica. Composites often require less tooth preparation, thus not weakening the affected tooth as much as amalgam fillings, which often require more extensive removal of tooth structure. However, amalgams do have greater long-term durability.