Regularly brushing your teeth, flossing, and visiting your dentist for the occasional cleaning can help keep your teeth clean and healthy, but sometimes, it’s just not enough. At some point, we’ll all probably need to undergo some form of complex dental work. Understanding some of the common types of dental work, what they’re used for, and how they’re performed can help you prepare for any type of procedure, whether it’s braces, bondings, or an extraction.
Bonding can repair teeth that are decayed, chipped, fractured, or discolored, and it can help reduce gaps between teeth. During the procedure, a dentist mixes composite resin into a paste, then tints the mixture to whiten or match the color of your teeth. The dentist will apply several layers of resin to your teeth. After application, the resin is hardened using an ultraviolet light or laser. The resin material is shaped and polished, so the finished tooth looks natural and smooth. Occasionally, bonding is used to build up older teeth and make them look younger. Bonding is an option for people of all ages, including children, as the resin can be replaced as teeth grow or shift.
Another common type of dental work is veneers. Veneers are strong, thin pieces of porcelain that are bonded to the teeth. They’re used to repair chipped, decayed, or stained teeth and, like bonding, can be used to diminish the appearance of gaps. If they’re properly contoured, veneers can even correct teeth that are crowded or overlapping. If your teeth have discolored with age or are naturally yellow, a veneer can improve their appearance. For cosmetic purposes, veneers are a better option than crowns, which are mostly used to treat badly damaged or decayed teeth. The tooth enamel needs to be ground or filed down in order to accommodate the veneer. Depending on the desired color and shade of your veneers, the procedure can take more than one appointment to complete.
Crowns and Caps
A crown, also known as a cap, is fitted over teeth that are damaged by decay, broken, badly stained, or misshapen. Crowns usually require more than one visit to complete. Crowns can be made from different materials, including acrylic, metal, porcelain, or porcelain bonded to metal. A crown made of porcelain will look similar to your natural teeth, which makes them a great option for front teeth. Porcelain that’s been bonded to metal is stronger and is commonly used on the molars and other back teeth. Sometimes, all-metal crowns are used for the back teeth instead. To prepare your tooth for a crown, the dentist will numb the area with anesthesia. The tooth is filed down so the cap can fit over it. An impression of the teeth and gums is made, and a temporary cap is fitted over the teeth until a permanent one is ready. On your next visit, your dentist will remove the temporary cap and cement the permanent crown onto the tooth. The crown should closely match the shape and color of your natural tooth.
Of course, these aren’t the only kinds of dental work that exist. Other procedures, such as braces, dental implants, root canals, extractions, and more, are also common. Before you get any dental work done, it’s important to research the procedure and understand how it works. This can alleviate any fears you have about the process, so you can walk into your appointment feeling confident.