A visit to the dentist might be about many different periodontal treatments and procedures. No wonder, many patients often feel overwhelmed with all the medical jargons, no matter how well the dentist tried to explain it.
Below, we will discuss some of the most common dental procedures, and what to expect from each treatment. Since knowledge is power, understanding these might also help patients with dental anxiety.
A dental crown or sometimes, dental cap, is technically an artificial material that is used to cover the upper surface of the tooth—the natural crown—. Your natural crown might be decayed, misshapen, or totally broken, and is also vulnerable to discolorations due to stains. While in most cases a dental crown procedure is performed for cosmetic reasons, damaged tooth crown might also cause discomfort or even pain.
Typically a dental crown procedure will require at least two appointments: the first to take impressions of your teeth in preparation of manufacturing the artificial crown. A temporary crown might be fitted during this first visit. The second appointment is done when the permanent crown is ready, and the dental specialist will remove the temporary dental cap and replace it with the permanent one. After the crown is fitted perfectly, the dentist will cement it.
The artificial crown can be made of various materials from porcelain, acrylic, metal, or metal fused with porcelain. Porcelain or resin crowns have the most natural color—similar to your natural teeth—. However, metal crowns are more durable and usually are implemented for the back teeth where aesthetics are commonly not an issue.
Dental bridges are a procedure to fill the gap caused by a missing tooth. Here, the bridge is put in place with the support of the adjacent teeth hence the name. The adjacent teeth are called “abutment teeth”, and usually they will receive a dental crown treatment to help cement the bridge in place.
Implant is a procedure to replace a missing tooth root. This can happen when an unhealthy tooth is extracted together with the root, or when the tooth is missing due to impact. The procedure involves a small metal usually titanium— that is inserted surgically into the jaw bone or slightly above the bone, in place of the original root. This piece of metal will “fool” the surrounding gum tissue and jawbone that a tooth root is in place, encouraging natural growth and preventing bone loss.
Dental implant is usually performed together with other dentures like dental crown or bridge.
Dental bonding is a treatment where composite resin is applied to repair chipped, decayed, or discolored teeth. The composite resin is mixed into a paste form and then applied to the tooth. An ultraviolet light or laser will then harden the paste to cement it in place. Dental bonding is among the most affordable and easiest treatment, especially when compared to dental veneer that is quite similar purpose-wise.
Veneers a thin layer of porcelain or resin that is custom-molded, and then placed over the visible part of the tooth. Veneers look very similar to natural teeth surface and can repair discolorations, chipped teeth, uneven teeth, and gaps between the front teeth, among others.
Dental veneers are long-lasting and can repair various cosmetic and health issues. Depending on your case, the procedure might require more than one appointment, and typically more expensive than dental bonding.
Teeth Whitening or Teeth Bleaching
As the name suggests, this is a cosmetic procedure to treat stains and discolorations, returning the natural white of your smile or in some cases, improving it. There are various bleaching methods that can be performed, but typically will involve hydrogen peroxide in gel form, that is applied directly to the teeth’s surface. Teeth whitening procedure will usually take only 30 minutes to an hour and can be faster if the dentist used ultraviolet or laser.
Dental braces are the implementation of metal devices to straighten your teeth, and by applying consistent pressure, can fix misalignment, crooked teeth, or fix gaps between your teeth. Dental braces are usually cosmetic treatment but are sometimes necessary to fix structural and orthodontic health issues.
Dentures are artificial tooth or teeth designed to temporarily or permanently replace missing teeth. There are two different types of dentures: full—where the dentures will replace all of your teeth, common for elder patients, and partial when the dentures are designed to just replace one or a few teeth. Dentures are made via an impression of the patient’s teeth and gums, so it will fit perfectly just like the wearer’s natural teeth.
A common procedure performed to extract unhealthy tooth that is beyond saving. The dentist will apply local anesthetics so the patient won’t feel any pain during the procedure, and the recovery period is usually only a few days to up to two weeks.
Dental fillings are performed to fill teeth cavities. When cavities are not filled, it can grow bigger or even crack the tooth, leading to severe pain. There are generally two types of dental fillings available: metal, commonly dental amalgam that is very durable, and natural-colored fillings made of composite resin or glass ionomer.
Root Canal Procedure
The root canal is an alternative procedure besides extraction to treat severely damaged teeth while maintaining its structure. It’s worth noting that root canal will technically “kill” the tooth if it’s not already dead, but the structure will be maintained so a dental implant or other procedures to fill the gap of the missing tooth won’t be necessary.
Root canals are usually performed when there is an abscess (infection near the root of a tooth, near the jawbone), where the tooth is opened and the infected tissue is removed thoroughly. The space left will then be filled and sealed to prevent future infections. Root canal has a fairly high success rate and the recovery period will only take up to two weeks.
Understanding the common dental procedures and knowing what to expect can help you prepare ahead and avoid dental anxiety. If you suspect that you are in need of one or more of these procedures, don’t hesitate to make a call and schedule an appointment immediately.