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Restorations are the various ways your dentist can replace or restore missing teeth or missing parts of the tooth structure. Tooth structure can be missing due to decay, deterioration of a previously placed restoration or fracture of a tooth.
1. Sealants - white filling materials in a "flowable" form. Used to fill the decay-susceptible grooves of the back teeth (usually children 6-18 years) as a preventative procedure.
2. Fillings - composite (white) filling materials. Placed directly into the prepared tooth. Used where the existing fillings or areas of decay are small enough that the remaining tooth structure has not been overly weakened.
3. Inlays - used in similar situations as fillings except a pre-made piece of ceramic material is bonded into the tooth. This results in superior physical properties, possibly providing a lifespan of 2 to 3 times longer than a composite filling. Inlays are a top-quality alternative to the composite filling. Traditionally gold alloy has been used for inlays, but now ceramics are excellent.
4. Onlays - used in situations where the tooth is fractured or has been severely weakened, the onlay is similar to the inlay described above except that the ceramic covers the entire or most of the biting surface. Unlike a crown, it does not cover the entire visible tooth structure, so there is no need to grind away all sides of the tooth unless there is a specific reason (like decay.)
5. Crowns ("Cap") - A crown, the largest tooth restoration, sometimes cannot be avoided. It covers all sides of the tooth as well as the end. It is used when there is limited tooth structure left, when an existing crown must be replaced, or when the tooth is an "anchor" tooth for a fixed bridge. In cases where it is impossible to get proper moisture control) below the gum line or near the back of the mouth), a cemented crown may substitute for a bonded one.
6. Veneers - thin porcelain facings that cover the front side of teeth. Used cosmetically to change the length, color and shape of teeth.
7. Bridges - used to replace missing teeth when sufficient "anchor" teeth are available on each side of the gap. Numerous systems are available, including fiber-reinforced ceramics, Zirconium-based ceramics and porcelain fused to metal bridges.
8. Implants - Titanium posts surgically placed into the jawbone. Implants are used to support a dental prosthesis (from single crowns to full denture) once the bone grows around the post (usually three months after placement.)
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