Tooth decay is the degradation of tooth structure by the bacteria that is in dental plaque. If our oral health is poor, plaque contacts the teeth for a longer time and eventually causes a cavity to form. If left untreated, it can lead to a dental infection, potentially causing pain and swelling, and over time, an abscess.
Regular visits to the dentist allow early detection and stopping these cavities before they turn into infection by removing the decay and placing fillings. If the cavity is identified early and decay minimal, a filling usually solves the problem. However, the longer the decay is left untreated, the higher the chances of an infection. If the cavity is deep and the resulting filling is close to the pulp tissue, the tooth can be saved with a root canal. If decay is extensive and tooth can’t be salvaged, an extraction is required.
A dental restoration or dental filling is done to restore the function, integrity and shape of missing tooth structure. The structural loss typically results from cavities or external trauma. It is also lost intentionally during tooth preparation to improve the aesthetics or the physical integrity of the intended restorative material. Dental restoration also refers to the replacement of missing tooth structure that is supported by dental implants.
Inlays and Onlays
Sometimes, decay or a fracture of a tooth is so extensive that an amalgam or composite filling, would compromise the structural integrity of the restored tooth or provide substandard opposition to biting forces. In such situations, an indirect gold or porcelain inlay restoration may be indicated. An onlay is an indirect restoration which incorporates a cusp or cusps by covering or onlaying the missing cusps.
A crown is a type of dental restoration which completely caps or encircles a tooth or dental implant. Crowns are often needed when a large cavity threatens the ongoing health of a tooth. They are typically bonded to the tooth using a dental cement. Crowns can be made from many materials, and are often used to improve the strength or appearance of teeth.
A bridge is a fixed dental restoration used to replace a missing tooth by joining an artificial tooth permanently to adjacent teeth or dental implants.
Types of bridges may vary, depending upon how they are fabricated and the way they anchor to the adjacent teeth. Conventionally, bridges are made using the indirect method of restoration. However, bridges can be fabricated directly in the mouth using such materials as composite resin.