What do you do if your teeth get chipped, cracked, decayed, or eroded? You contact a dentist who can use reconstructive dentistry to restore your smile so that it’s attractive and functional again. Reconstructive dentistry can repair essentially any damage to your teeth. The results will look beautiful and natural–few will guess you had your smile repaired–and you can enjoy eating all your favorite foods without worry. Plus, reconstructive dentistry can protect your other teeth from damage, too.
Has your smile been damaged? To learn more about reconstructive dentistry in Westchester County, please call (914) 332-4402 today for an appointment with a cosmetic dentist at Advanced Dentistry of Tarrytown.
The goal of reconstructive dentistry is usually to make your smile as close as possible to the way it was before it was damaged. There are many potential causes of smile damage:
- Dental decay
- Dental erosion
- Bad bite
- Traumatic accident
Each comes with its own pattern of damage which requires a special approach to fix. But these types of damage are fixable, and it’s vital that they are fixed.
Damage to your smile is more than just a physical harm. It can be emotionally damaging, especially if you’ve lost one or more teeth. Your smile is a vital part of your self-image, as well as a vital part of how others see you. Restoring it can help you achieve a full physical and emotional recovery.
Because we want to make your smile as functional, healthy, and attractive as possible, we may recommend working on more teeth than are actually damaged. Sometimes, this is for cosmetic reasons. You may be unhappy with the appearance of your smile and want to combine a smile makeover with your reconstructive dentistry. Other times, it may be functional. If your teeth are damaged because of bite problems, the actual problem might not be the teeth that are being damaged. To get a truly effective and long-lasting result from your reconstructive dentistry may require addressing these bite problems.
When you come in for reconstructive dentistry, we will give you multiple treatment plans, including the minimum we consider necessary for the health of your smile, as well as treatment plans that help improve the appearance and long-term durability of the results. But you are ultimately in charge of what you want to do.
Reconstructive Dentistry for Tooth Decay
Tooth decay is caused by oral bacteria that consume sugars in your mouth and excrete acid onto your teeth. The acid removes minerals from the tooth enamel. In the early stages, this is known as demineralization. But once enough minerals have been removed and holes begin to form in the teeth, it’s known as a cavity, or, among dentists, dental caries.
Preventive dentistry is the best way to deal with caries, and often if we detect demineralization we will just recommend changes in diet, oral hygiene, and some other personal habits. This can slow decay to the point where your body’s natural mechanisms can repair the teeth.
But once you’ve developed cavities, your body can’t repair these on its own. Then we’ll use tooth-colored fillings to repair the damage. The most economical version of tooth-colored fillings is resin composite, basically plastic with ceramic inclusions to harden it. Ceramic fillings are a more robust approach, and they are virtually identical to the appearance of your natural teeth. They’re more expensive, and take more than one visit to our office to complete.
If cavities don’t get treated right away, they can penetrate deep into the tooth. If this structurally weakens the tooth, a dental crown may be recommended for durable results.
The situation becomes even more serious if the cavity penetrates into the living part of the tooth, called the pulp. This is located in a chamber in the middle of the tooth. When the pulp chamber is penetrated, the infection can become very serious. It can be very painful, cause discoloration of the tooth. In some circumstances, an infected tooth can even be life-threatening. We can use root canal therapy to remove the infection and restore the beauty and function of the tooth.
Erosion Causes Widespread Damage
Dental erosion is similar to tooth decay because both are caused by acid that attacks your dental enamel. But where they differ is the source of the acid. Tooth decay is caused by oral bacteria secretions. Dental erosion is caused by acids that are introduced into your mouth. This can be caused by:
- Acidic drinks like soda or sports drinks
- Acidic foods like citrus fruits or pickled foods
- Acidification of saliva because of dehydration
- Vomiting related to sickness or purging
Where tooth decay typically affects teeth in a concentrated way, dental erosion can impact many or even all of your teeth simultaneously. With tooth decay, you might have one or two teeth that are seriously damaged, while the rest of your teeth are fine. With erosion, you’re more likely to have teeth in a region or the entire mouth damaged.
Where the teeth are damaged depends on the source of the acid. Acidic drinks affect the fronts and sides of teeth first. GERD typically damages teeth in the back of the mouth first. Vomiting damages the backs of teeth first.
Repairing damage caused by erosion may require many restorations.
Tooth Wear from a Bad Bite
Ideally, our teeth shouldn’t touch most of the time. And when they do touch, they should fit together evenly to balance the forces they experience. But if your teeth don’t fit together properly–what we call malocclusion–your teeth can be subjected to excessive force, which leads to damage.
Teeth clenching and grinding (bruxism) is a common habit. It can be caused by temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ), but sometimes it’s the cause of TMJ. Teeth clenching can also be caused by other factors, such as stress, difficulty breathing at night (sleep apnea), or overuse of stimulants like caffeine.
You may notice the sore jaw related to teeth clenching after a stressful day at work, or you might notice it first thing in the morning when you wake up. Your teeth may even hurt. But sometimes people don’t notice the symptoms until their teeth start getting damaged.
Be on the lookout for symptoms of bruxism and contact a neuromuscular dentist as soon as you notice them. The sooner we can treat your bite problems, the less reconstructive dentistry you’ll need.
A common early sign of excessive force on your teeth is craze lines. These are small, vertical cracks in your teeth. These aren’t necessarily dangerous, but they can contribute to tooth sensitivity, and they can be very unattractive because they accumulate stains.
Sometimes your teeth will wear evenly: they’ll all grow shorter slowly over time. Other times, individual teeth will chip and crack. Chipped teeth can be repaired with porcelain veneers. Cracked teeth may require dental crowns to restore their structural stability.
When a bad bite is causing tooth damage, we may want to fix the bite problem before we repair the damage. See our TMJ treatment page for more information.
Trauma Can Destroy Your Smile
Our teeth are capable of withstanding a lot of damage, but they aren’t invulnerable. There are many causes of tooth trauma that can can badly damage your teeth. Teeth can be chipped, cracked, broken off, or even knocked out.
The most common causes of tooth trauma are:
- Traffic accidents
- Sports accidents
Although sports accidents are the most common cause of tooth trauma, they are also often the least damaging. Proper use of sporting equipment, including sports mouthguards, can protect you from these types of accidents.
Car accidents typically cause the most serious tooth damage, although airbags have significantly decreased the likelihood of facial trauma in accidents, these can still occur and sometimes are related to airbags themselves.
The type of damage to the tooth determines the type of reconstructive dentistry recommended:
- Chipped teeth: porcelain veneers
- Cracked teeth: dental crowns, sometimes with a root canal
- Broken teeth: dental crowns or extraction and replacement with bridges or implants
- Knocked out teeth: replacement with bridges or dental implants
Serious dental trauma may occur with facial trauma including broken jawbones. We can work with your other treating doctors to ensure optimal results.
Expert Cosmetic Dentists
The quality of your reconstructive dentistry depends heavily on the skill of your cosmetic dentists. If you are looking for expert cosmetic dentists in Westchester County, please call (914) 332-4402 today for an appointment at Advanced Dentistry of Tarrytown.