It is always frustrating to me when something that I own breaks. It never seems to occur at an opportune time. Teeth tend to work this same way, they never to start hurting or break on a Monday morning. They always find a way to become a problem on a Friday night when your dentist has gone to a week long course about fixing broken teeth. This is Murphy’s Law at its most painful.
Our goal is to catch these teeth at routine visits…before they become a problem. Last week I discussed a few of the materials we use to fix teeth. I’d like to expand on that this week and discuss the actual types of restorations we use to fix teeth.
Let’s suppose you have a suspect tooth. Teeth can become weakened by a variety of different things. Cavities, old fillings gone wild, cracks from biting something wrong, and root canals can all weaken teeth. Our goal in thee situations is to strengthen these teeth so that they can last you a lifetime. Here’s how we do it.
Fillings – Fillings are the most conservative way to fix teeth. They are used when the problem with a tooth is confined to a small area. Holes in teeth can be filled with amalgam (silver‐mercury), composite resin (tooth colored plastic), or gold foil (rarely done today). If you have a small cavity, a small filling is a great way to go. It’s even better if we can fix the tooth before it starts to hurt.
Inlays/Onlays – The best way to describe an inlay or onlay is a jigsaw puzzle piece that replaces lost or decayed tooth structure. This puzzle piece is made by a lab and is considered stronger and tighter fitting than a filling. There are even machines that can mill these pieces out of porcelain while you wait at the dentist’s office. These pieces are chemically bonded to your tooth, like a filling, but will generally last longer than filling material. They can be made of gold, porcelain, or special plastic resins.
Caps or Crowns – Crowns are used when more than one third to two thirds of the healthy tooth has been destroyed by cracks or decay. They are also required on back teeth that have had root canal treatment. When a crown is accomplished, your dentist removes all of the unhealthy tooth structure and decay from the tooth. Then, a build‐up filling is done to replace all of the holes left in your tooth. The tooth is then shaped similar to a thimble so that the lab can make a new tooth that fits into your bite. Crowns generally take two visits and can be made of porcelain, gold, or a combination of the two.
Hopefully, this helps a little next time something goes awry. We love an informed, educated patient. Until next time, keep smiling.
‐Questions or comments can be sent to Drs. Parrish at ParrishDental@aol.com.