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Dental bridges literally bridge the gap created by one or more missing teeth. A bridge is made up of two crowns for the teeth on either side of the gap. These two anchoring teeth are called abutment teeth. The false tooth/teeth in between are called pontics. These can be made from gold, alloys, porcelain, or a combination of these materials. Dental bridges are supported by natural teeth or implants.
A dental crown is a tooth-shaped cap that covers the natural tooth to restore its shape and size, strength, and improve its appearance. The crowns, when cemented into place, fully encase the entire visible portion of a tooth that lies at and above the gum line.
Why is a dental crown/bridge needed?
- To protect a weak tooth from decay or from breaking, or to hold together parts of a cracked tooth
- To restore an already broken tooth or tooth that has been severely worn down
- To cover and support a tooth with a large filling when there isn’t a lot of tooth left
- To hold a dental bridge in place
- To cover misshapen or severely discolored teeth
- To cover a dental implant
- To make a cosmetic modification
A denture is a removable replacement for missing teeth and surrounding tissues. Two types of dentures are available, complete and partial dentures. Complete dentures are used when all the teeth are missing, while partial dentures are used when some natural teeth remain.
Complete dentures can be either “conventional” or “immediate”. A conventional denture is ready for placement in the mouth about 8 weeks after the teeth have been removed due to healing time. Unlike conventional dentures, immediate dentures are made in advance and can be positioned as soon as the teeth are removed.
Dental sealant is a thin, plastic coating painted on the chewing surfaces of teeth, usually the back teeth (the premolars and molars) to prevent tooth decay. The sealant quickly bonds into the deep pits and grooves of the teeth, forming a protective shield over the enamel of each tooth. Although thorough brushing and flossing can remove food particles and plaque from smooth surfaces of teeth, they cannot always get into all the nooks and crannies of the back teeth. Sealants protect these vulnerable areas from tooth decay by sealing out plaque and food.
Children and teenagers are great candidates for sealants. However, adults without decay or fillings in their molars can also benefit from sealants. Typically, children should get sealants on their permanent molars and premolars as soon as these teeth come in, this way, the sealants can protect the teeth through the cavity prone years of ages 6-14.
A root canal is a treatment used to repair and save a tooth that is badly decayed or becomes infected. During a root canal procedure, the nerve and pulp are removed and the inside of the tooth is cleaned and sealed. Without treatment, the tissue surrounding the tooth will become infected and abscesses may form.
A tooth’s nerve is not vitally important to a tooth’s health and function after the tooth has emerged through the gums. It’s only function is sensory, to provide the sensation of hot or cold. The presence or absence or a nerve will not affect the day-to-day functioning of the tooth.
When a tooth’s nerve tissue or pulp is damaged, it breaks down and bacteria begin to multiply within the pulp chamber. The bacteria and other decayed debris can cause an infection or abscessed tooth. An abscess is a pus-filled pocket that forms at the end of the roots of the tooth. In addition to an abscess, an infection in the root canal of the tooth can cause swelling that may spread to other area of the face, neck, or head or bone loss around the tip of the root.
A tooth extraction, or exodontia, is the removal of a tooth. Reasons for a tooth extraction include decayed or broken teeth. They may also be removed to make room for other teeth or an orthodontia treatment. Throughout history, tooth removal has been used to treat a variety of illnesses before the discovery of antibiotics as chronic tooth infections were linked to a number of ailments. There are two main types of tooth extractions: simple extractions and surgical extractions.
Simple extractions are performed on visible teeth in the mouth under local anesthesia. The tooth is loosened from its sockets and then removed with dental forceps. Surgical extraction is a more complicated procedure done on teeth that have broken under the gum line or have not fully erupted and is generally done under general anesthesia.