When you go for a check up, our dentist checks your fillings and may suggest that you replace any loose or broken ones. Our dentist also looks for signs of decay, such as brown or black spots and may want to use X-rays to take a closer look at problem spots.
If you have a cavity, our dentist may keep an eye on it (if it's small) or fill it right away. If a large cavity is not filled, it can get bigger and cause pain. The tooth may even have to be removed and replaced with a false (or artificial) tooth.
Different kinds of fillings available to restore the integrity of the tooth:
- Direct Filling
These fillings go right into the cavity, after our dentist has cleaned out the decay. Amalgam (or silver) fillings and plastic (or white) fillings are examples of direct fillings. They harden quickly. Most of the time, you will be able to have a direct filling put in place in one appointment.
- Indirect Filling
Examples of this type of filling are crowns (or caps) and inlays. They are
custom made in a lab to fit your tooth. Your dentist cements the filling in
place. Most indirect fillings take two or more appointments to complete.
Different materials for the filling:
1. Dental Amalgam Fillings
Dental amalgam fillings are sometimes called "silver" fillings. They are the most common type of filling used in Canada today. Because these fillings are silver in colour, they are used to fill back teeth. They are a mix of metals such as mercury, silver, copper and tin.
2. Cast Gold Fillings
Cast gold fillings are based on a model (or cast) of your tooth. Cast gold fillings are a mixture of gold with other metals such as silver and copper. These other metals make gold fillings more durable.
Composite fillings are also called plastic or white fillings. They are made of polymethylmethacrylate.
1. Composite Fillings
To place this filling, all decays from the tooth have to be cleaned and a glue (or bonding material) will then be put on the inside of the hole. Composite resin is put into the hole in thin layers. Each layer gets hard with the help of a special light. When the last layer of the filling is hard, the filling will be shaped and smoothened so it looks and feels natural.
2. Porcelain Materials
Porcelain materials are the most common type of dental ceramic used by dentists. They are hard and brittle. Porcelain and metal can be combined to make a strong, tooth-coloured crown.
Dental porcelain is made in a dental lab. Unless you have a bad tooth-grinding habit or some other problem, a combination of porcelain and metal can be used anywhere in the mouth.
If your tooth
is damaged but not lost, a crown (also called a cap) can be used to cover the damaged part of your tooth. A crown protects your tooth from further damage. You may need a crown if:
Crowns can be made of different kinds of metals, porcelain or porcelain fused to metal. They are strong and last for about 10 years, if you take good care of them. Brush and floss your crown, just like you clean your natural teeth.
- you have a root canal;
- you have a large filling in a tooth;
- you have a broken tooth; or
- your tooth is badly stained, not the right shape or out of line.
But crowns and replacement teeth may not be as strong as your natural teeth, so:
- do not bite down on hard objects;
- do not use your teeth to open or cut things; and
- do not do these things with your natural teeth either.
believe that the best teeth are your own, and they make sure you do not lose any of them. Successful root canal treatment lets you keep your tooth. The only other option is to have your tooth removed.
Keeping your tooth helps to prevent your other teeth from drifting out of line and causing jaw problems or gum disease. Saving a natural tooth avoids having to replace it with either a bridge or an implant.
What is Root Canal Treatment?
Also called endodontics, root canal treatment is the process of removing the infected, injured or dead pulp from a tooth.
There is a space inside the hard layers of each tooth. It is called the root canal system and it is filled with soft dental pulp made up of nerves and blood vessels that help the tooth grow and develop. Once a tooth is fully-grown, it can survive without a pulp. If the pulp of a tooth becomes infected, a root canal (or endodontic treatment) is needed. When this treatment is performed, the pulp is removed.
When Root Canal Treatment is Needed
The pulp inside a tooth can be damaged by cracks in the tooth, deep cavities or accidents. Germs (or bacteria) can get into the tooth and lead to infected tooth pulp. This situation may cause pain and/or swelling. Sometimes, the pulp becomes infected or dies, but does not cause any pain.
Your dentist may notice:
Sometimes, if a great deal of dental work is needed, your dentist can tell from your exam and x-rays that the pulp of a tooth is not likely to survive. In all these cases, root canal treatment can ease or prevent symptoms, and save the tooth.
- changes in the colour of the tooth,
- changes in your gums, or
- changes picked up by a dental x-ray.
Things to Consider
Root canal treatment may be completed in one appointment, or it may take two or more visits. It depends on the complexity of the root canal system and on the degree of pulp damage. Sometimes, if the infection has spread from the tooth to the bone (or abscess), the infection may have to be drained before the root can be filled.
After root canal treatment, your tooth may be tender for one or two weeks. Bad pain or swelling are not common. If the pain is severe, contact us ASAP.
After a root canal, your tooth has to be fixed (or restored) to look, feel and work as much like a natural tooth as possible. Our dentist may use a filling or a crown to restore your tooth. It depends on the strength of the part of the tooth that's left. A back tooth will likely need a crown, because chewing puts a great deal of force on back teeth. If not enough of the tooth is left, our dentist may use a post to help hold the crown on. A tooth that has become dark may be bleached, crowned or covered with a veneer.
You can still get a cavity or gum disease after a root canal. It does not protect your tooth from other types of damage.
Bridges & Dentures
that the best teeth are your own teeth. They will do all they can to make sure you keep your teeth. But sometimes, a tooth is badly damaged or lost. The good news is bridges and dentures are two ways to restore a badly damaged tooth or replace a lost tooth.
If a tooth is lost, it is important to replace it with a false (or artificial) tooth as soon as possible. This procedure will prevent your remaining teeth from drifting out of line and causing other problems.
A bridge is also called a "fixed bridge" or a "fixed partial denture." A bridge can replace one or more missing teeth and is held firmly in place by healthy teeth on each side of the missing one(s). You cannot take a bridge out. It is permanent.
There are two types of dentures: partial and full dentures. Both types are made in a dental lab, based on a mold (or an impression) of your mouth.
A partial denture is also called a "removable partial denture" or a "partial." It is made up of one or more false teeth, and held in place by clasps that fit onto nearby teeth. You can take the partial denture out yourself, for cleaning and at night. A partial denture may be used when nearby teeth are not strong enough to hold a bridge, or when more than just a few teeth are missing.
A full denture is also called a "complete denture" or "false teeth." It can be used when all your natural teeth are missing. Remember, you need to care for a denture as carefully as you would look after your natural teeth.
In most cases, the natural colour of teeth is within a range of light greyish-yellow shades. Teeth naturally darken with age and their appearance can be affected by the accumulation of surface stains acquired from the use of tobacco products and the consumption of certain foods or drinks.
In addition, the perception of the colour of teeth is severely affected by skin tone and make-up. Independent of the real colour of their teeth, people with darker skin or who use dark makeup will look like they have brighter teeth.
Although teeth are not naturally meant to be completely white, many Canadians want a brighter smile. Responding to this desire, a wide range of "whitening" options has become available to consumers. These products fall into two main categories: surface whiteners and bleaches.
It should be noted that claims related to tooth whitening are seen as cosmetic in nature by Health Canada. These claims must be accurate, so as not to mislead the public. However, the regulator tolerates some puffery or exaggeration. As a consequence, the results of whitening treatment may not be as convincing as consumers originally expected.
These products use special abrasives to improve the product's ability to remove surface stains. Most products in this category are either toothpastes or chewing gums. Because the special abrasives in these whitening products are often only finer versions of what is used in regular toothpastes, they are unlikely to cause excessive tooth wear. However, the effectiveness of these products is limited to surface stains and should not be used as a substitute for professional cleaning.
Most bleaching products are peroxide-based and are actually capable of altering the colours of the tooth itself. However, not all tooth discolourations respond to tooth-bleaching treatments. Individuals contemplating tooth-bleaching should consult with a dentist to determine the cause of the tooth discolouration and to determine whether a bleaching treatment will have the desired result. This step is especially important for patients with fillings, root canal treatments, crowns and/or with extremely dark stains on the anterior teeth.
A number of different bleaching techniques and products are available to patients. Your dentist will use one of these two methods to whiten your teeth:
There are three methods for bleaching teeth. The method that will work best for you depends on the number of teeth that need to be bleached, and on how badly they are stained (or discoloured).
- Vital bleaching is done on "living" teeth and can be used to whiten your teeth if they have become stained by food or tobacco, or if they have become dark with age.
- Non-vital bleaching is bleaching done on teeth that are no longer "alive." If your tooth has changed colour because of a root canal, non-vital bleaching can lighten your tooth from the inside out.
Your dentist may suggest:
Putting a special bleach on your stained teeth and using heat (or heat and light) to start the bleaching action; or
Wearing a custom-made mouthguard filled with a special bleach for part of each day; or
Brushing with a special bleach mixed in toothpaste.
Bleaching should be done only under a dentist's care. Tooth-bleaching under controlled dental office conditions may be safe and effective, but the new in-office vital tooth-bleaching techniques, particularly those using laser and lights, have undergone little scientific assessment.
Home-use tooth-bleaching systems are available to the general public, either from a dentist or from various retail outlets. Clinical studies support the safety and effectiveness of home-use bleaching gels when used appropriately. Tooth sensitivity and irritation to soft tissues can occur during bleaching treatment, but these effects are transient. Yet the effects of long-term tooth-bleaching are unknown and need to be researched, especially since the effect is not permanent and many individuals end up undergoing periodic bleaching treatments.
Bonding & Veneers
Bonding and veneers your teeth look better by changing their colour, shape or spacing.
Bonding is a quick and painless way to repair chips in your teeth. Bonding uses a white plastic paste, called composite resin - a plastic that is semi-liquid at first, but that becomes hard and durable when cured with light.
This material can be tinted to match the colour of natural teeth and can also be contoured and shaped to resemble the missing part of a chipped tooth. It can be painted over a stained tooth, and it can make a fractured tooth look whole and perfect. Composite resin can even build up the size of teeth so gaps between them are reduced or eliminated.
Veneers are very thin acrylic or porcelain shells that are attached to the front part of teeth. Like bonding, veneers can cover badly-stained teeth, chipped teeth, uneven teeth and large fillings.
Dental implants are used to replace missing roots and support replacement teeth, which may be fixed to the implant(s). Or you may be able to take them out yourself.
Implants are not for everyone. You must be in good general health, have healthy gums and enough bone in your jaw to support the implant(s). You must be willing to see your dentist or dental specialist several times until the work is done, and take very good care of your implant(s). In addition, implants can cost more than other kinds of replacement teeth.
It's normal for bone to shrink if it no longer has teeth to support. Because an implant sticks to bone, the bone is less likely to shrink. But if you have been missing teeth for some time, you may have lost bone. A bone graft can build up the bone so it can support an implant. When a bone graft is done, bone is added to the area where your jawbone has shrunk.