Dental Restoration

Table of Contents
Types of Restoration
Conditions the Require Restoration
Preparing the Tooth for Restoration

By John Baker



A dental restoration refers to the methods dentists use in order to restore or replace missing parts of the mouth. You can require a dental restoration for a number of reasons: a chipped or broken tooth, dental decay, or a previous restoration that has begun deteriorating. The most common cause of structural loss is from dental cavities or trauma that were left untreated. Dental restoration can also describe the replacement process of teeth that are supported by dental implants.

Dental restorations can be broken down into two types; direct restorations and indirect restorations.

A direct restoration generally involves placing a filling into a prepared tooth before it has a chance to harden. Most often a direct restoration can be implemented in one visit to your dentist. It is meant for minor restorative techniques like for small fillings.

An indirect restoration is commonly used for larger restorations. It involves preparing the restoration materials outside of the mouth. If you require an indirect restoration your dentist will take a mold or impression of your teeth to ensure the correct size and dimensions of the materials being used. The final result is then bonded to the teeth with dental cement or cement-like material. Until the final materials are ready to be applied to the teeth a temporary restoration can be placed on the damaged or missing teeth.

Reasons for Tooth Loss

  • Suffered a trauma or injury to the mouth
  • Severe tooth decay or cavity that has been neglected
  • A failed root canal therapy
  • Periodontal disease
  • Congenital defects
  • Teeth have worn down because of excessive grinding or clenching

Dental Health and Tooth Restorations

Types of Restorations

  • Fillings
    • Fillings are one of the most common restorations done. They are used to repair damaged teeth, dental decay, or small fractures. A tooth is filled with a composite material made of gold, glass or tooth colored plastic material. A filling can consist of several different materials depending on the purpose and location. For small fillings many prefer to use natural tooth colored fillings.
  • Dental Bridges
    • A dental bridge is used to restore the place where the tooth is missing. It involves anchoring the teeth using the surrounding natural teeth for support. If the gaps are left open it can cause teeth to migrate into the open space. This can result in jaw misalignment crooked teeth and can make you more susceptible to several dental disorders.
  • Dental Crowns
    • A dental crown is a cap that can be placed over a damaged tooth to restore its shape and size. It is used to fix cracks in teeth, protect damaged teeth, prevent and eliminate tooth decay or to fix a misaligned bite. They are designed to protect the tooth they are covering. A crown can generally consist of one of three different materials; ceramic, gold, or porcelain fused to metal. Each material is used under different circumstances. For example porcelain made crowns are more delicate but resemble the natural color of teeth more than the other materials.
  • Dentures
    • Dentures are used as a replacement for missing teeth. They generally consist of a acrylic resin material and can be used as complete dentures which replace all of the teeth, or partial denture for just several teeth. 
  • Veneers
    • Veneers consist of a thin porcelain material and are used to cover the front side of the teeth. Generally used to alter the appearance of the teeth.
  • Inlays
    • Inlays are used to fill gaps that have developed in a tooth. They are made of ceramic material that bonds into the tooth. Inlays are similar to fillings but last longer and are considered to be of better quality.
  • Onlays
    • Onlays are used when the tooth has been fractured. They consists of ceramic and is used to cover a majority of the biting surface. Onlays differs from inlays because it does not only fill the cavity, but covers and protects the surface of the tooth.
  • Bonding
    • The bonding process is used in most restorative procedures, it describes the process of fusing the filling to the tooth. It is utilized for a variety of reasons such as fixing gaps in between teeth, correcting teeth that are not straight and repairing a chipped tooth. There are two forms of bonding involved in dental restoration: direct composite bonding, and adhesive bonding.
    • Direct composite bonding refers to when a dentist uses tooth colored composites to fix cavities, repair fractures or close gaps. It is a relatively simple procedure that can be implemented in one scheduled visit.  Adhesive bonding involves the attachment of a restoration to a tooth using a bonding material.
  • Dental implants
    • Dental implants are used to replace a single missing tooth or several implants can be used to help restore multiple teeth. It involves placing a small metal post into the bone where the tooth is missing.

Article: Types of Restorations

Conditions that require restorations

  • Periodontal disease
    • Periodontal or gum disease usually results from poor oral hygiene that inflames and possible infects the gums. The earliest stages of gum disease are referred to as gingivitis. Gingivitis is relatively easy to treat and usually does not require any restoration. However if left untreated it can develop into periodontitis, an advanced form of gum disease. Periodontitis must be treated by a dentist and if left alone can require tooth extraction.
  • Root Canal Therapy
    • A root canal is a restorative surgery most often caused by dental decay or a severe cavity that has reached the pulp or nerves of the tooth and has caused them to become infected. The treatment involves removing the infected tissues and cleaning it of any evidence of infection.  The empty space is then filled and a dental crown is used to cap the tooth.
  • TMJ Disorder
    • Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ) describes the pain related to the jaw, jaw joint and the surrounding muscles. It is most often caused by a misalignment of the jaw, or a trauma to the mouth. In advanced cases of TMJ disorder restorative surgery is required to treat the issue. There are three types of surgeries associated with TMJ disorder:  Arthrocentesis, Arthroscop, and Open-joint surgery.
  • Full Mouth Reconstruction
    • Full mouth reconstruction or restoration is used in extreme cases. It involves reconstructing and restoring all of the teeth in the upper and lower jaws. Some of the reasons why you would need this procedure include: significant trauma to the teeth, teeth that have fallen out because of decay,   persistent  pain in the jaw that require bite realignments, or teeth that have been worn down due to grinding or clenching.

Preparing the Tooth for Restoration

In order to restore a tooth a dentist must first prepare the tooth for treatment and then implement the required restoration.

When a dentist prepares a tooth for dental restoration there are a number of things that must be considered that will greatly impact the type and method of preparation needed. For instance the severity of the decay on a tooth can require different types of preparations and restoration. 

To prepare the tooth a dentist generally removes part of the tooth to make sufficient room for the new material. If necessary any evidence of decay is removed. There are two types of preparation used in the restoration process; intracoronal and extracoronal.

  1. An intracoronal preparation involves the maintaining of the restorative materials inside the structure of the tooth.
  2. An Extracoronal preparation is used as a base used for the placement of restorative materials that will return the tooth back into a functional structure.



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