What is a dental restoration?

Dental restorations are custom-designed solutions to help repair, improve, and restore teeth that have become compromised due to structural damage or tooth infection. Damage like cracks, fractures, and breaks in your tooth structure can continue to grow more severe unless protected with a custom-made dental crown. Teeth that have suffered severe tooth decay and have undergone root canal therapy may also require dental crowns to protect their weakened structures from the pressures of biting and chewing.

What is dental cleaning?

Dental cleaning, or prophylaxis, is the routine, professional removal of harmful plaque and tartar from your teeth and along your gum line. Plaque is a byproduct of oral bacteria, many of which lead to tooth decay, gum disease, and more. When it isn’t removed promptly with a toothbrush and floss (such as when you miss a spot), plaque will calcify into tartar. Because tartar is insoluble, it can’t be removed with toothpaste and water, and oral bacteria will increasingly threaten your smile until your dentist or hygienist can remove it at your regular dental cleaning.

What is scaling and root planing (a.k.a., deep cleaning)?

When oral bacteria, plaque, and tartar settle on the roots of your teeth underneath your gums, they can lead to gum infection, or gingivitis. As the precursor to gum disease, gingivitis is marked by inflamed and often bleeding gums. To treat early stages of gingivitis and gum disease, you may require deep cleaning, or scaling and root planing, in addition to your regular dental cleaning appointments. Scaling and root planing is the process of gently removing plaque and tartar from underneath your gums, allowing the tissues to heal and reducing your risks of complications due to gum disease, such as tooth loss. Deep cleaning is more complex than regular dental cleaning, and may require more than one visit to complete.

What is root canal treatment?

Root canal treatment, also known as endodontic treatment, is a procedure designed to remove infection from the internal chamber of your tooth, known as the pulp. Your tooth’s pulp houses its nerves, blood vessels, and soft tissues. When tooth decay reaches this chamber, the infection can spread through the root canals that lead from the pulp and into your periodontal tissues and jawbone. Root canal treatment stops internal decay from spreading, saving the tooth and nearby tissues from more severe oral health complications. For improved results, your dentist may recommend placing a lifelike, porcelain dental crown over the tooth after root canal treatment.

What is a dental bridge?

Dental bridges are among the oldest forms of restorative dentistry for tooth loss patients. As the name suggests, a bridge closes the gap left in your smile when you’ve lost a tooth, or more than one tooth if they’re adjacent to each other. The bridge consists of an appropriate number of replacement teeth, called pontics, and crowns at each end of the bridge that are supported by the nearby healthy teeth on either side of the gap. For many patients, dental bridges can be supported on one or more dental implants placed into the jawbone, saving healthy teeth from having to be modified.

What is a dental crown?

A dental crown, or dental cap, is a custom-designed restoration that mimics the top portion of your tooth (known as your tooth’s crown). It can be utilized to protect a tooth that has suffered a crack, fracture, break, or other structural damage by completely covering and shielding the tooth from your bite’s pressure. Modern crowns can be crafted from a variety of materials, depending on each patient’s unique needs and preferences. Porcelain crowns, for instance, are designed to closely mimic your tooth’s appearance and can be used to improve the appearance of a seriously discolored, misshapen, or otherwise blemished tooth.

What are dental implants?

Dental implants are small posts that are strategically placed into the jawbone, serving as prosthetic replacements for lost teeth roots. Implant posts are typically made from biocompatible titanium, which the jawbone accepts and bonds to as it heals around the implants. Using one or more implant posts to support a dental crown, bridge, or denture offers the unprecedented benefits of stimulating the jawbone to preserve its integrity and reduce the risks of further tooth loss due to jawbone erosion.

What is periodontal disease?

Periodontal disease is the clinical name for gum disease, which affects not only your gums but also the periodontal tissues that support your teeth roots. In severe cases, it can also affect the density of your jawbone, making periodontal disease the number-one cause of adult tooth loss. Periodontal disease occurs in stages; it begins when oral bacteria infect your gums and cause rampant inflammation–a condition called gingivitis. If untreated, gum infection progresses into gum disease, including more severe inflammation, the destruction of your gum tissues, and more. If detected early, gingivitis may be reversed with timely scaling and root planing. However, if periodontal disease has developed, then you may also need more involved periodontal maintenance to control the condition and reduce your risks of tooth loss.

What are dentures?

Like dental bridges, dentures have long been a go-to solution for patients who’ve suffered tooth loss, though dentures are required to address more severe edentulism. Modern dentures can be crafted as complete restorations to replace an entire row of lost teeth, or as partial restorations to address several gaps in your smile while fitting around the healthy teeth that remain. Most dentures are crafted from highly lifelike materials, such as porcelain and zirconia, that closely resemble the color, texture, translucence, and overall healthy appearance of natural teeth. For many patients, dentures can also be placed on dental implants for optimal comfort, stability, and long-term results.

What is a partial denture?

With complete dentures, patients who’ve lost all of their teeth on the upper and/or lower dental ridges can rebuild their smiles by replacing them. However, if you still retain healthy teeth, then you may benefit more from a partial denture designed to fit around and support those teeth, allowing you to rebuild your smile without having to extract them. In some cases, partial dentures can be combined with dental implants for improved comfort and restorative results.

What are inlays & onlays?

Restorations like tooth fillings and dental crowns are common solutions to tooth damage and infection. However, sometimes you may need a restoration that’s larger than a filling, but not as encompassing as a full dental crown. Dental inlays and onlays are conservative solutions for such cases, offering maximum restoration while limiting the amount of tooth structure that your dentist has to alter. An inlay is placed in the crevices between the cusps of a tooth, while an onlay can extend over the top and side of the tooth. For the most lifelike results, inlays and onlays are often crafted from custom-made dental porcelain to blend in seamlessly with your smile.

What are dental sealants?

Dental sealants are a preventive measure that helps improve your ability to prevent cavity development. Cavities, or holes in your teeth, are caused by tooth decay, which is caused by excessive oral bacteria on your teeth. Sealants are thin layers of biocompatible acrylic that are applied onto the chewing surfaces of teeth, where bacteria and food particles can hide. The layers prevent cavity-causing bacteria from hiding in hard-to-reach areas of your tooth, making it easier to brush and floss away plaque and prevent cavity development.

What kind of teeth-whitening do you offer?

Teeth-whitening is one of the most commonly prescribed cosmetic dental treatments, and can effectively erase even stubborn teeth stains to brighten and improve your smile’s appearance. At our office, we offer the advanced Zoom! Teeth-Whitening system that combines a quick, single-visit, in-office treatment with a custom-designed kit that you can take home and apply at your own convenience. After your in-office treatment, you can use the whitening trays in your kit to apply the bleaching agent to your teeth for an hour or two every day. After about two weeks, your smile will be several shades brighter, and your teeth’s surface stains will be gone!

What do you recommend for good dental hygiene?

The most important parts of your dental health and hygiene are in your hands. Be sure to brush your teeth at least twice every day and floss at least once, preferably before bedtime. When possible, brush your teeth after each meal, or rinse your mouth with water immediately after eating. Also, be sure to schedule regular checkup and cleaning appointments with your dentist at least once every six months, or as often as recommended to maintain your good oral health. To learn more about caring for your smile and/or your braces, visit the following websites:


How do I schedule a dental appointment?

When you’re  ready to schedule a consultation with one of our dentla health experts, call Dimples Family Dentistry in Norwalk, IA, today at 515-256-1176.