Chipped, cracked, decayed or missing teeth affect your oral health and detract from the brilliance of your smile. The dentists at La Jolla Family Smile Design offer a selection of dental restorations to repair or replace affected teeth. In our experience, there is no “one-size-fits-all” solution that works for everyone. We will work with you to determine your unique needs and then recommend a customized treatment plan that restores function and beauty to your teeth.
Restorations with Dental Fillings
We frequently place dental fillings over teeth that have developed decay. After removing the decayed tooth material, we use fillings to replace the missing enamel. This restores full biting and chewing function to the tooth and reduces the risk of future decay. Tooth-colored fillings are particularly popular at our practice, as they look very natural and blend in with the surrounding teeth.
Other Types of Dental Restorations
Sometimes dental decay or damage is too extensive for a dental filling. Depending on the extent of the problem, our dentists may recommend another restoration, such as an inlay, onlay, dental crown, dental bridge or dental implant, to rebuild or replace the affected tooth.
Dental Inlays and Onlays
Dental inlays and onlays are used when a cavity is too large for a simple dental filling. They are created as a single piece and specifically made to fit the exact shape and size of the cavity. An inlay fits into the center of the tooth’s chewing surface; an onlay is slightly larger and covers at least one cusp (or point) on the tooth’s chewing surface.
A dental crown completely covers the exterior of a tooth. Crowns are used on teeth that are severely decayed and teeth that become infected and need a root canal. We also use crowns to protect badly cracked or chipped teeth from further damage; by covering the tooth, we can protect the remaining pieces and strengthen the tooth.
If the tooth is missing or must be pulled because of severe damage or decay, we can fill the gap with a dental bridge. There are several different kinds of dental bridges, with traditional bridges being the most common. These bridges are made up of a false tooth anchored by two dental crowns. The crowns cover the teeth on either side of the gap and the false tooth fits perfectly into the gap.
Like dental bridges, dental implants replace missing teeth. But dental implants mimic an entire tooth, from root to crown. A titanium post or screw functions as the tooth root and is placed in the jawbone beneath the missing tooth. The post is mounted with a dental crown that blends in with the adjacent teeth. Implants are a strong standalone solution that help keep the jawbone stimulated so it does not waste away from lack of chewing forces.
How long does the process of getting a dental filling take?
The length of your dental filling procedure depends on the extent of correction required, which may depend on the size and location of the cavity. The time is also increased if more than one cavity is being treated during your visit. You will be provided with an estimate of how long your procedure is expected to take before work begins so that you can plan accordingly.
Do fillings hurt?
Dental fillings are a common procedure that is designed to significantly improve your oral health. At LJFSD, our team is dedicated to delivering high-quality dental care; this includes ensuring that you are comfortable during your procedure. The treatment area will be numbed ahead of the procedure to minimize pain.
What happens if I choose not to get a filling?
Fillings are used to address tooth decay. If left untreated, you may experience severely compromised dental health. There are five key stages of tooth decay, including:
Demineralization: In the early stages of tooth decay, tiny spots on the tooth may become visible, signaling a breakdown in the enamel.
Enamel decay: As the damage progresses, the enamel continues to deteriorate. This stage is accompanied by visible tooth staining.
Dentin decay: At this stage of tooth decay, sensitivity becomes an issue. You may also notice increased tooth discoloration.
Pulp damage: The pulp of the tooth contains nerves and blood vessels, meaning any damage to this area results in significant pain. Gum redness and swelling are also common at this stage.
Abscessed tooth: A tooth abscess is an infection that damages the tissues. However, this stage of tooth decay is particularly dangerous because the infection can spread to other parts of the body. In rare cases, infection can travel to the brain or the bloodstream. Pain from an abscessed tooth can radiate from the tooth to the jaw, face, and neck and swollen lymph nodes may also occur.
What is the best filling material?
Dental fillings can be composed of a variety of materials. At LJFSD, our team will select the most appropriate filling material for your needs.
What is dental implant failure?
It happens when the jawbone does not fuse with the implant properly. One sign of dental implant failure is a wobbly implant. The movement could be slight and may only be detectable by an experienced dentist. Pain, swelling, and infection are also signs of dental implant failure. If suspected, dental implant failure can be confirmed with an X-ray, which can show the extent of bone jawbone growth around the tooth.
Is dental implant failure preventable?
Failed dental implants are an unusual outcome for this type of restoration, but do occur. Choosing a skilled and experienced provider, such as the dentist at LJFSD, can help you avoid dental implant failure. They will determine if you have risk factors for dental implant failure. For example, if you suffer from gum disease, your implant may become compromised. As such, you may be advised to undergo gum disease treatment before implant surgery. In addition, closely adhering to aftercare instructions following your dental implant procedure can help you avoid complications. Instructions may require you to avoid activities such as smoking.
Learn More About Dental Fillings
Our knowledgeable dental team can help you reclaim a complete, healthy smile and maintain it for life. For more information about the strong, attractive dental restorations we use at La Jolla Family Smile Design, please call or email us today.