Restorative dentistry is the process of restoring damaged teeth or missing teeth in order to improve oral health and cosmetic appearance.
Restorative dentistry deals with diagnosis, prevention, interception and restoration of the defects of natural teeth. The ultimate goal is to maintain the health and integrity of teeth and supporting structures. Human teeth are a marvel of nature. They are capable of functioning in the hostile oral environment for many years without undergoing much degradation. However, in the event of any loss of tooth tissue, they have limited capacity for repair. This necessitates replacement of defective tooth structure with a suitable restorative material.
The indications for restorative procedures include various conditions causing defects in tooth structure. They are as follows:
- Dental caries: this is by far the most common disease affecting tooth structure. It affects the teeth due to the action of microorganisms on fermentable sugars.
- Tooth wear: this is a surface loss of hard dental tissues other than by caries or trauma. It is most often a natural consequence of aging.
- Traumatic injuries: traumatic injuries of teeth occur suddenly due to accidents, falls, fights, etc., and may affect dental hard tissues and pulp tissue.
- Developmental defects: a variety of defects in tooth structure and shape may occur during the development of tooth but become apparent after the tooth erupts. These teeth are often unsightly and require restoration to improve aesthetic and function.
- Repair and replacement of existing defective restorations: while in function, existing restorations may fail due to various reasons.
- Esthetic corrections: the esthetic appearance of teeth may be affected due to various conditions like caries, non-vitality, diastema, fluorosis, etc.
Components of restorative procedure:
- Tooth to be restored is evaluated.
- Tooth to be restored is prepared (removal of caries).
- Type of dental material to be used is determined.
- Dental material is mixed and transferred to the prepared tooth.
- The dental material is adapted to the tooth, burnished, carved and polished.
- Occlusion of restoration is checked.
- Finishing and polishing of restoration are done.
Some of the most common restorative dental procedures are as follows:
- Porcelain veneers: They are ceramic or porcelain structures. They are custom made according to the shape and size of the face of a tooth and are bonded with the help of adhesives. They are mainly used to cover discolored teeth and to fill large gaps between teeth.
- Dental Implants: Dental implants are artificial teeth which are fixed in the place of missing teeth. They are used to replace teeth which are lost due to cavities, periodontal or external injuries.
- Crowns: Crowns are dental structures which are cap-like and are placed over one's teeth for better aesthetic and structural integrity. When a person's tooth has a crack, fracture or a filling, crowns are placed over them so as to keep the teeth intact
- Tooth colored filling: tooth colored filling is mostly used when a cavity is developed on a tooth due to the accumulation of bacteria. The cavity is cleaned in order to remove all the bacteria and dental cement is used to fill the gap.