Dental procedures are designed to clean, strengthen, and protect teeth against the rigors of daily use and (sometimes) abuse, and to repair damage when possible. Here are some of the most common dental procedures performed today by dental professionals.
Applying composite tooth bonding is a restorative procedure that uses tooth enamel-colored composite resin (plastic) to repair teeth that are decayed, chipped, fractured or discolored. Tooth gaps can also be closed. Unlike veneers, which require laboratory work, bonding is done in the dental office.
A dental brace is a device used to correct the alignment of teeth and bite-related problems (including under bite, overbite, etc.). Braces straighten teeth by exerting steady pressure on the teeth.
Bridges and Implants
Bridges and implants are two ways to replace a missing tooth or teeth. Bridges are false teeth anchored in place by neighboring teeth. The bridge consists of two crowns on the anchoring teeth along with the false tooth in the center. Dental implants are artificial roots used to support replacement teeth.
Crowns and Caps
Crowns are dental restorations that protect damaged, cracked or broken teeth. Dental crowns often referred to as caps; sit over the entire part of the tooth that lies above the gum line.
Although they are no longer handled without pain medication, teeth do still need to be extracted for various reasons. Simple extractions are usually handled by the dentist using a local anesthetic and are a quick, outpatient procedure. More complex extractions (sometimes including the common extraction of the wisdom teeth) may require the services of an oral surgeon and may even require general anesthesia and a brief hospital stay. The most common reasons for tooth extraction is trauma that has damaged a tooth beyond repair or decay that has not been treated early or effectively enough to save the tooth.
Dentures are prosthetic devices replacing lost teeth. There are two types of dentures – partial and full. Full dentures are often referred to as “false teeth”.
Fillings and Repairs
Restorative materials are used to repair teeth, which have been compromised due to tooth decay (cavities) or trauma. Your dentist may use several methods to determine if you have tooth decay such as cavity detecting dye, x-rays and laser fluorescence cavity detection aids. Tooth trauma can be caused by cracked or broken teeth, teeth that are worn from unusual use such as nail biting, tooth grinding (bruxism) and using your teeth to open things. Different materials can be used to repair teeth, the most common being composite fillings made from a tooth-colored resin which looks and feels like natural teeth. Ask your dentist what material is best for you and specific needs.
Periodontal or gum disease is an infection that affects the gums and jaw bone, which can lead to a loss of gum and teeth. There are two major stages — gingivitis and periodontitis. Gingivitis is the milder and reversible form; the periodontal disease is often more severe. In some cases, gum surgery will be required to reverse the effect of the disease.
Oral Cancer Examination
Oral cancer starts in the cells of the mouth, tongue or throat. Oral cancer screening is usually a routine part of a dental examination. In this exam, your dentist will feel for lumps or irregular tissue changes in your neck, head, face, and inside your mouth. Your dentist will also look for sores or discolored tissue in your mouth.
Root Canals (endodontics)
Root canals treat diseases or abscessed teeth. Once a tooth is injured, cracked or decayed, it is necessary to open the tooth and clean out the infected tissue in the center. This space is then filled and the opening sealed.
Dental sealants, usually applied to the chewing surface of teeth, act as a barrier against decay-causing bacteria. Most often, the sealants are applied to the back teeth, e.g., premolars and molars.
Teeth naturally darken with age, however staining may be caused by various foods and beverages such as coffee, tea, and berries, some drugs such as tetracycline, smoking, or a trauma to a tooth. There are various teeth whitening options available, including in-office and at-home bleaching.
Veneers are strong, thin pieces of ceramic or resin material that are bonded to the teeth. Veneers are used to repair chipped, decayed or stained teeth and may help in closing gaps between teeth.