Given a choice, all of us would like to grow old with our own teeth still in place. Sometimes that isn’t possible. The good news is that modern dentistry offers so many treatments that even if you can’t keep your own teeth, you will have access to prostheses that are very nearly as good.
A dental implant is an artificial root that anchors an artificial replacement tooth in your jaw. If you’ve lost a tooth due to injury or disease, an implant can be the most effective means of replacing that tooth. With implants, you’ll have a tooth that is indistinguishable from your natural teeth. It will also prevent bone loss in your jaw. Implants should never fail, as long as you observe proper dental hygiene.
If you have teeth that are discolored, chipped, misaligned or broken, you may feel embarrassed or self-conscious. Veneers can restore your smile. They are simply thin shells that cover your natural teeth, and that can alter their color, length, size and shape. To install veneers, your dentist scrapes a bit of enamel off your existing teeth, makes impressions of the teeth, and then sends those impressions off to a dental lab so your veneers can be created. Then they are fitted, the color is adjusted, and they are cemented in place. They look so natural that no one will ever know they’re not your real teeth.
Crowns and bridges restore appearance and functionality to damaged teeth. Crowns are permanently fixed. Bridges are removable – they are attached to your adjacent teeth, and fill in the gaps caused by missing teeth. As with veneers, impressions need to be taken. Then synthetic teeth are created to replace those that you’ve lost.
You might think that root canal sounds painful, but it isn’t. It’s actually the extreme decay that leads up to you needing a root canal that causes pain. When you need root canal, the decay is so deep that it’s down in the pulp of your tooth. Often it’s preceded by infection, and before the dentist performs your root canal, he or she will prescribe antibiotics to cure the infection and ease the pain. Then, the procedure itself will be relatively painless, and can often be completed in a single visit. It’s really no more uncomfortable than an ordinary filling.
Dentures are the most common way of replacing teeth that are missing. They’re usually made of porcelain attached to plastic, and they can restore your appearance and also enable you to chew the way you were able to before you lost your teeth. Of course it’s always best to keep as many of your original teeth as possible, so in many cases, partial dentures are possible. Properly fitted, they won’t slip.
Many people today have never had a cavity. That’s because we know so much more about dental care than we did in decades gone by. But if you do have a cavity, you’ll need a filling. It’s exactly what it sounds like – a way of filling up a hole in your tooth. Fillings today are usually composed of porcelain amalgams that won’t stain. You take care of them the same way you do your natural teeth, and if you’re lucky, your first filling could be your last!