Parkview Dental Care - David Bertagna, DDS
We have described the amazing ability of the human body to repair itself. Interestingly, the only tissue of the body that is unable to heal itself are the teeth. This is mainly due to the fact that once the body creates the teeth, the cells that produced them are buried deep inside the tooth.
These cells cannot reach the outside of the tooth where decay and wear from bruxism (clenching and/or grinding) affects the teeth. While these cells can still produce tooth structure, it is only in the deepest part of the tooth. This area is called the pulp of the tooth. Once the dentist repairs the defect on the outside of the tooth, the pulp can possibly repair the inside.
Materials such as dental composites, glass ionomers, copolymers, amalgam, gold and porcelain can be used to restore the outside of the tooth. If the tooth is healthy, it can then repair the effects that were caused by the initial trauma, such as decay, fracture, or bruxism.
Dental composites are synthetic resins that are basically the combination of silica (sand), and bis-gma (plastic). They typically use light to harden them. Just as water causes concrete to harden, light has that effect on composite. Composite has the advantage of bonding chemically and mechanically to the tooth structure.
When a composite restoration is placed under the proper conditions, it can achieve strengths comparable to the tooth itself. It also has the advantage of being tooth colored, providing excellent esthetics as well as strength. It also provides the dentist with an ability to conserve as much healthy tooth structure as possible, compared to amalgam (silver fillings).
Glass ionomers and copolymers are also tooth colored restorative materials. These materials are not as strong as composites, but have the advantage of being easier to use under unfavorable conditions in the mouth. While composite restorations require specific conditions to be predictable, these types of restorations are very forgiving if the environment in the oral cavity is less than ideal.
These types of restorations are very successful in areas where saliva, blood or other factors that would not allow composites to be utilized, to be used effectively. They also offer the benefit of fluoride retention and release that can inhibit recurrent decay, of which composites at this time are unable to do.
When more than half the tooth has been destroyed, or a root canal has been performed, a crown is recommended. A crown is typically made from gold, precious metals, semi-precious metals, porcelain or the combination of these materials. A crown is the most effective way to restore the integrity of the tooth.
Unfortunately, it requires a significant reduction of the existing tooth to be successful. However, using composite or glass ionomers as a foundation, the dentist can provide the structure required to have a predictable, long lasting restoration.
Dental restorations restore the function, integrity and shape of the missing tooth structure. These restorations can also be used to replace missing teeth. Missing teeth can be restored using implants, bridges, removable partial dentures or full dentures.
The main focus of the art and science of dentistry is to prevent or treat the two most common diseases of humans, dental caries (decay) and periodontal disease. The treatment of these diseases involves the restoration of the damaged teeth and the elimination of the bacteria that result in inflammation and bone loss.
Just as important, is the daily care of the teeth and regular visits to the dentist. In this way we will make healthy choices that bring happy smiles!