Crowns and bridges restore your smile
Restorative dentistry includes anything that restores a damaged or missing tooth or restores oral health. Crowns, sometimes called “caps,” cover the entire tooth and are used to restore teeth that need extra strength and support due to large fillings, fractures and/or root canal therapy. We first make a mold or impression of the tooth to be crowned and sent it to a lab to be carefully custom-made. We place a temporary tooth crown while our patient waits for the permanent crown to come back from the lab.
This procedure is usually completed in two appointments, two weeks apart. We can make a significant improvement in appearance with this technique. We also use the technologically advanced iTero® scanner to take 3D digital scans of your teeth and bite, make adjustments in real time and transmit the file to the lab electronically for processing – eliminating the need for molds or impressions. Our ceramic crowns deliver unmatched beauty for your crown restoration.
Bridging the gap for a missing tooth
We use a dental bridge to fill a gap between teeth. We attach an artificial tooth to two crowns and then cement it over the adjacent teeth. The benefit of a bridge over a partial denture is that a bridge is not removed and it looks and feels like your “real” teeth. Bridges are extremely durable and can last many years when they are properly cleaned and cared for.
Gone are the days when dentists used silver amalgam and metal filling materials (including mercury) on cavities, caries or dental decay. Today’s tooth-colored fillings are made from advanced dental resins, ceramics, plastic, porcelain and silica fillers that are not only much safer for patients, but considerably more attractive in your mouth than metal amalgams. In fact, many people have opted to replace their old silver fillings with new tooth-colored fillings for those reasons.
Your teeth can be filled with gold, silver amalgam (mercury mixed with silver, tin, zinc and copper) or tooth-colored, plastic, porcelain and composite resin fillings. There is another filling material that contains glass particles. This is called glass ionomer. Dentists use this material much like composite resin fillings.
Why tooth-colored fillings?
Most people today are more concerned about having a bright white smile, and composite tooth-colored fillings fill that bill beautifully. They allow your dentist to match the color of your other teeth exactly so no one will notice that you ever had cavities. Tooth-colored fillings typically require less drilling than metal filling materials. So more of your healthy tooth can remain intact. The only downsides to tooth-colored fillings are that they usually don’t last as long, about 7 to 10 years on average, and they tend to cost more than metal fillings.
While tooth-colored fillings are durable, no fillings last forever, including amalgam fillings. All will have to be replaced eventually, mostly due to wear and tear. Your teeth are constantly assaulted by eating and drinking and stress from clenching or grinding. Eventually this may cause dental fillings to fail. Bacteria in your mouth also cause tooth decay. Bacteria tends to accumulate around the edges of dental fillings, which can eventually make the filling loose enough to fall out.
Tooth-colored fillings are made to hold up to daily use. However, if you play contact sports, you should certainly wear teeth guards while playing. You should also avoid eating very hard foods, such as hard candies, and avoid chewing on hard objects such as pens, pencils and toothpicks.
Composite tooth-colored fillings also bond directly to teeth, which actually strengthens those teeth. And the filling material requires less sculpting by your dentist in order to adhere to your teeth securely and maintain good dental aesthetics.
What to expect during a tooth-colored filling procedure?
Your dentist will first use a local anesthetic to numb the area around the tooth being treated. He or she will then use a drill, air abrasion or a dental laser to remove the decay. After removing the decay, your dentist will clean out any bacteria and debris left behind. This prepares the space being filled.
Your dentist will then apply the tooth-colored filling material in layers and use a special light to harden each layer. Once the multi-layered filling is completed, your dentist will polish the tooth and finish the procedure. The best type of filling for you will be based on the location and extent of your decay, the cost of filling material, your dental insurance coverage and your dentist’s recommendation.
What are the advantages of tooth-colored filling composites?
A tooth-colored filling is more attractive. Your dentist can closely match the shade and color of these composite fillings to the color of your other teeth. Composites are often better-suited for your front teeth or visible parts of other teeth. Composites also chemically bond with your tooth structure for additional strength and support.
Tooth-colored fillings are versatile because they can also be used to repair chipped, broken or worn teeth. The tooth-sparing preparation sometimes requires that less tooth structure be removed when compared with amalgam fillings during preparation of the tooth being filled.
What are the disadvantages of tooth-colored filling composites?
A tooth-colored filling is less durable since composite fillings (5 to 7 years on average) and wears out sooner than an amalgam filling (lasting 10 to 15 years). The process for applying a tooth-colored filling can take up to 20 minutes longer than an amalgam filling. Depending on location in your mouth, a composite filling may tend to chip. And composite fillings can cost up to twice as much as metal amalgam fillings.
Does insurance cover tooth-colored fillings?
If you have dental insurance, it will most likely cover the cost of silver fillings and require you to pay the difference for composite, tooth-colored fillings.
To learn more about restorative dentistry, please call 575.521.0127 for your free consultation. You can also use our online Request an Appointment form to book your one-on-one time with one of our dental specialists. Patients come to us for tooth crown and bridge from Sunland Park, Anthony, Ciudad Juarez, El Paso, Las Cruces and close-by locations.