Restorative dentistry is a specialized field of dentistry that deals with rehabilitating damaged, missing, or diseased teeth to restore the functional and cosmetic quality of a person’s dentition. Because teeth cannot be restored without considering the health and integrity of the structures and tissues that support them, restorative dentistry is typically an integrative approach which brings together prosthodontic, endodontic, and periodontal treatment.
Prosthodontics, which involves designing and fitting dental prostheses, is the mainstay of restorative dentistry. Dental prostheses are devices designed to replace missing or defective teeth or other mouth structures. These artificial devices mimic the look, and restore the function, of natural mouth structures. Dental prostheses used in restorative dentistry include the following:
A dental crown is a protective cap or covering that is cemented onto a tooth that is cracked, chipped, or otherwise damaged. Crowns match the color and look of the patient’s natural teeth and also strengthen the tooth’s structure.
Bridges are artificial teeth designed to fill a gap between healthy teeth. Bridges are bonded to the adjacent natural teeth to hold them in place. Bridges prevent the teeth from shifting thereby preserving the alignment of the teeth.
Dentures are removable artificial teeth that can be designed to restore a person’s full dental arch (complete dentures) or several missing teeth (partial dentures).
Dental implants are artificial teeth that are singly screwed into the jawbone, after which, a crown in placed on top. Implants mimic the appearance and function of natural teeth.
The process of restoring teeth may sometimes require that the pulp chamber and tissues surrounding the roots of the teeth be treated. In such cases, restorative dentistry may also involve endodontic treatments such as root canal therapy or root end surgery.
In many cases, the presence of a periodontal disease or defect is the reason why teeth need to be restored in the first place. The gum, jawbone, or periodontal ligament often needs to be treated before dental prostheses can be fitted. As such, restorative dentistry often involves periodontal treatments such as bone grafts to replace atrophied jaw bone, or crown lengthening to expose enough natural tooth structure for the placement of a dental crown.
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