Teeth form cavities in them when bacteria and food matter stay in contact with your tooth for a period of time that allows a hole to form in your tooth. Often this hole is a darker color, but can start out as a white mark as well. The only way to prevent the hole to get any larger is to remove the bacteria that are inside the hole, and fill it with a filling material that prevents future leaking, and allows the tooth to continue to function normally. Dr. Bliss primarily places white filling material called composite unless another material is specifically requested.
Teeth that have large cavities, large fillings, or have been cracked or worn severely may not be strong enough to support a new filling. A crown is then recommended that covers the tooth, and protects it from breaking. A crown is a two appointment process. Appointment #1 is to prepare the tooth for a crown by removing all old fillings, decay, and appropriate tooth to allow a strong crown to be made by the lab. You leave with a temporary crown. In 2-3 weeks, you return to receive your final crown. Often the second appointment is so easy that you do not require a shot. Dr. Bliss uses very strong white crown materials unless another material is requested.
Bridges are an option to replace a missing tooth. They require healthy teeth on either side of the missing tooth. Those teeth on both sides are prepared like they will receive a crown. Then three crowns fused together are cemented in place on those two teeth, suspending the replacement tooth between them. A very common treatment that still has excellent uses, but has become less popular in favor of a dental implant. The negatives of a bridge are that they require the teeth on both sides to be prepared for a crown, and two teeth are supporting the chewing forces of three teeth. They can be used to replace more than one tooth at times, and also tend to be cheaper than dental implants. One of the biggest factors when choosing a bridge is that they are fairly immediate. The steps are similar to a crown. Appointment number 1 is preparing the tooth, making an impression to send to the lab to manufacture your custom bridge, and you leave with a temporary bridge to try out. 2-3 weeks later, your final bridge is placed.
Dental implants can be used to replace a single tooth, multiple teeth, or support or retain full dentures or partial dentures. They have many different uses, and are one of the best ways to improve your happiness with your teeth if performed appropriately. Dental implants are made out of the same medical grade titanium used in artificial joints. There are 2 parts to implants. The first part is surgically placed, and your body actually attaches to it through a process called osseointegration that takes 3-6 months. Then the implant can be restored by placing a crown or bridge on it, or attaching a full or partial denture to it. If several implants are placed, they can support a whole arch. The negatives to dental implants are the cost, and time for osseointegration. Dr. Bliss will be happy to discuss ways to utilize implants to improve, or restore your teeth and smile.
Teeth have canals inside them that have nerves and blood supply to the tooth. When teeth get traumatized by either repeated cavities, fillings, and crowns, or by actual physical trauma like an accident, the nerve can start to die which can cause pain. The nerve pain can be pain from temperature change, pain on biting, or just an ache. The process of a root canal is to access the nerve canal through the tooth, remove the dead or dying nerve, and seal it closed, so no pain can return. Root canals have a very bad reputation for being painful, and usually, they are very comfortable procedures. The important thing is to get the inflamed tooth nice and numb, then many patients actually fall asleep during the root canal process. If the tooth being root canalled is not crowned, a crown is often recommended because the access in the tooth to perform the root canal often leaves the tooth weakened. Dr. Bliss will be happy to diagnose the proper treatment for pain that you are having.