Whether through accident or disease, it’s surprisingly easy for teeth to become damaged. Luckily, many years and brilliant minds have been dedicated to addressing these problems. Restoring damaged or diseased teeth is today a major part of dentistry.

The primary goal of dental restorations is to restore both the look and function of the damaged tooth. For as many ways as there are for teeth to become damaged, there are ways to restore them.

Dental restorations cover the following treatments and procedures:

Fillings

Dental fillings are one of the most common and well-known dental treatments in the world.

Fillings are used to restore teeth that have developed cavities, also known as dental caries. Cavities are the most common form of tooth damage in the world. It’s estimated that 90-96% of Americans aged 65 or older have them.

Dental fillings can be made out of many different materials. The most common are amalgam fillings, made with a metal alloy containing silver, copper, zinc, tin, and mercury. These have received a lot of bad press over the last few years over fears of mercury poisoning. While the FDA still considers them safe to use, there are other concerns about their effectiveness.

Other filling material includes composite resin and even gold. Gold is actually a great restorative material as it’s both long-lasting and durable.

Veneers

Veneers are both restorative and cosmetic items. A good way to think of them is like fake nails for your front teeth. Veneers are thin appliances which cover up chipped or cracked teeth to restore their shape.

Veneers can also be made out of a variety of materials, including metal alloys, gold, composite resin and porcelain.

Crowns

Dental crowns are used to restore chipped and cracked molars, and also to restore teeth after root canals.

Dental crowns are effectively caps that go over damaged teeth. They restore the look of the tooth to a natural state and protect the tooth from further damage.

Inlays and Onlays

Inlays and Onlays are similar to dental crowns, but rather than covering the entire biting surface of a tooth, they only replace part.

An inlay covers the cusp, or inner curved part, of a tooth. This is what you can feel with your tongue if you touch your molars.

An only covers one of the tips of your tooth and part of the biting surface.

Dental Implants

Dental implants are the gold standard for replacing a single missing tooth. They’re a three-part restoration made out of a titanium screw, an abutment — something that supports a restoration — and a dental crown.

Implants can be used to replace a missing tooth, several teeth using a bridge, or even an entire row of dentures using procedures like All-on-Four.

Bridges and Dentures

Bridges are used to replace one or more teeth in a row. Dentures can be whole or partial, depending on if they replace an entire arch of teeth or just part of one.

Bridges and dentures can be supported or stabilized by dental implants, or adhered directly to either remaining teeth or the gums.