Fillings are done to remove decay and replace the affected tooth structure. It is called a filling because a new material fills the hole which decay has created. Most teeth are treated with a bonded tooth colored composite resin filling. Caught early enough, cavities can be treated easily and painlessly. If not treated, decay can lead to tooth pain and/or infection requiring root canal treatment or extraction.
Non-surgical gum treatments
The gums, ligaments, and bone around the teeth form the foundation for ones teeth. All structures are also referred to as the periodontium. When the periodontium is not healthy, it jeopardizes the teeth just as a bad foundation would threaten the stability of a house. Signs of unhealthy periodontium (gum disease) may be as follows: gums that are red and bleed easily, persistent bad breath, gums that are pulled away from the tooth, loose teeth, and changes in the position or bite of the teeth. Any of these signs may mean something is wrong. With the proper care, it may be possible to return them to a healthy state. This is where appropriate gum treatments come in. If you’re having a problem, come in and see us so we can take care of it right away. The treatment usually involves a deep cleaning or root planing done under a local anesthetic, along with local antibiotic agents. If the gum disease gets too severe it may need to be treated through surgery or extraction. This is why it is important to get it treated at the first sign of a problem.
Crowns are full coverage restorations that are used to cover a tooth that is likely to break, or is too broken down to be restored with a filling. They are most commonly done after root canal treatment, or when a large filling needs replacement. The larger cavity that has to be treated more likely will need a crown. Even after a filling is put in a large cavity, a tooth is more likely to break. Keep in mind that the jaw muscles are the strongest in the human body. Teeth are subjected to tremendous pressures. Crowns fit over the weakened tooth, providing strength and protecting the tooth against breakage. A broken or cracked tooth is a far more serious matter and much more difficult to treat.
Root Canal Treatment
Root canal treatment (also referred to as root canal therapy or endodontic therapy) is necessary when a cavity extends to the pulp of the tooth. Sometimes deep restorations or trauma to a tooth may cause the nerve to be damaged to the point of needing root canal therapy. Once this occurs the pulp becomes infected, and the infection can extend through the root tip and begin to eat away at the surrounding bone (this is an abscess). By the time the pulp is infected it must be treated, and cannot heal on its own. This can be life threatening, not to mention very painful. Symptoms that the pulp has become infected may include sensitivity to hot, cold or sweets, pain, swelling, pain to biting or pressure, and a bad taste in the mouth. Sometimes, however, no symptoms are apparent and the person is unaware of any problem until a checkup.
A root canal is then performed to clean out the infected tooth pulp and disinfect the nerve chambers. The only other option would be to extract the tooth. Once the infection is resolved, the canal(s) are filled to prevent any further infection. Usually a large filling and crown are recommended for restoring a tooth that has had root canal therapy.
This is an option for filling the space created by a missing tooth. It is formed to look like the missing tooth and takes its place in the mouth. The ends of a bridge use the two adjacent teeth for support, hence the name. A bridge replaces the missing tooth, both functionally and cosmetically. Bridge work is as much an art as it is an exact science. The materials used may be gold alloys, porcelain bonded to metal alloy or all ceramic material. The choice of material depends on requirements for strength, wear, and or esthetics.
It is important that a missing tooth be replaced as soon as possible for several reasons. If not treated, the teeth surrounding the space begin to shift inward, creating a chain reaction of bad things. Teeth use their neighbors for support, and, with one missing; they start to “fall.” In response to the pressure as it worsens, the bite changes. This can eventually result in problems with the entire jaw, e.g., TMJ. The surrounding teeth deteriorate and it is just a matter of time before they too are lost. Gum disease may become a serious problem, with the difficulty of treatment increasing as the neglect continues.
There are different types of dentures, but they share a common function. They replace teeth that have become loose or have been lost due to bone loss or decay. When bone loss around the roots of teeth is great enough to loosen them or let them fall out, it’s time for dentures. Relax. No one enjoys losing his or her natural teeth, but you can still eat and talk regularly.
The entire mouth is examined and a determination is made as to which teeth will have to be removed, and which will remain. The loose teeth are then extracted. Dentures are fitted to go over or around whatever teeth remain in the mouth. There is an adjustment period after dentures are placed in the mouth, and it can take some getting used to. But once accustomed to the dentures, all the normal functionality and appearance return. Often implants are used to further stabilize the dentures.