Restorative Procedures

Over 90% of Americans will suffer from tooth decay– no matter how well they brush and floss their teeth. In fact, dental infection is the most common chronic disease found in children. Genetics, diet, and other factors influence the rate at which teeth decay, especially in younger children. Tooth decay to can lead to infection which can cause serious health problems if left untreated.

The dental infection found in teeth is caries. Caries is a bacterial process that breaks down the minerals that make up our teeth.

Fortunately, there are many great options for treating tooth decay. Treatment is aimed at meeting the specific needs for your child’s teeth. Sometimes, certain procedures will be appropriate, while others would not be. At Children’s Dentistry of Charlottesville we use a variety of proven and effective restorative procedures to treat dental decay.

Our Restorative Procedures

What Our Patients Say

kara b testimonialI absolutely love this place! The staff is outstanding with my children, always goes above and beyond to make sure that they’re happy and comfortable. We’ve never left there without smiles on all of our faces! Couldn’t ask for a better dental office! Highly recommend them.

— Kara B.

Call Children’s Dentistry of Charlottesville at (434) 817-1817 or contact us online to learn more about how our restorative procedures can help your child.

Composite Fillings

When it comes to repairing small cavities, composite fillings are our first choice. They have several advantages over traditional amalgam (silver) fillings. Composite fillings:

  • Match the color of your child’s natural teeth
  • Look great
  • Require removal of a minimal amount of healthy tooth structure

Composite fillings are not permanent– but with proper care, they can last for many years. If your child has a composite filling, make sure he or her:

  • Eats a well-balanced diet that is low in sugary and acidic foods
  • Uses good technique when brushing
  • Flosses regularly and thoroughly

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Amalgam Fillings

Amalgam (silver-colored) fillings are very durable and are a good choice for some patients. Their benefits are:

  • Stronger material than composite
  • Tend to last longer compared to composite
  • Not as sensitive to poor diet and hygiene habits as composite

However, they do have some drawbacks compared to composite fillings. For example, amalgam filling don’t look as natural and require the removal of more healthy tooth structure. Be aware that while amalgam fillings do contain mercury, there is no reliable research confirming any negative health effects.

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Stainless Steel Crowns

When a cavity covers a significant portion of a tooth’s structure or t patient is very young and we want are concerned about fillings not being able to last until the baby teeth are replaced by the permanent, we may recommend a crown instead of a filling. A stainless steel crown covers the crown of the tooth completely (the visible part of the tooth) and restores the tooth to its original shape and size. These crowns are “glued” into place with a special dental cement.

Crowns are incredibly strong and provide protection for any baby tooth that has extensive decay. However, since they are a silver color they will not match the surrounding teeth. We try not to place them on front teeth because of their appearance, if possible. Additionally, when a crown is placed, it may cause minor discomfort around the gums for a few days. Your child will need to avoid sticky foods to prevent pulling the crown off.

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When decay reaches the nerve of a baby tooth, the infected portion of the nerve needs to be removed. This procedure is called a pulpotomy and is sometimes referred to as a “baby” root canal. Pulpotomies help prevent over 90% of dental abscesses, which occur when an infection spreads beyond the teeth. This procedure is less invasive than root canals performed on permanent teeth. Once completed, the tooth will also be treated with a stainless steel crown to protect it from fracturing.

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When tooth decay is so extensive that the tooth can’t be restored, or there is an abscess in the surrounding tissue, the tooth will need to be removed. This procedure is called an extraction.

At Children’s Dentistry of Charlottesville our philosophy is to always consider this a last-resort method. If we recommend an extraction, it is because we feel that this is in the best interest of your child’s health and we will carefully review with you all the considerations and factors that led us to this recommendation.

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Space Maintainers

When baby teeth in the back of the mouth are extracted before permanent teeth are present, a space maintenance device may be recommended. These space maintainers preserve a space for the permanent tooth to fill in as your child grows up.

Space maintainers are available in a variety of forms, including pre-fabricated and custom-made. Custom-made space maintainers are usually only needed when filling a large space. Space maintainers fit onto adjacent teeth and are cemented in place.

If your child has a space maintainer installed, it’s extra important to pay close attention to their diet and avoid sticky foods.

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Permanent Crowns & Bridges

Sometimes decay is so extensive on permanent teeth that your child’s dentist may determine a filling to be insufficient. In this case, a custom-made crown (or cap) is used as a final restoration. This usually requires 2 appointments:

  1. At the first appointment, the dentist will remove all of the decay and infection and take an impression (or mold) of the tooth. Then the dentist will fit a temporary crown to protect the tooth while the permanent crown is being fabricated.
  2. At the second appointment, the dentist will remove the temporary crown, clean the tooth, and then cement the permanent crown onto the tooth.

The result is a very strong restoration that provides the best outcome for a tooth with extensive decay.

Occasionally, we will recommend a bridge to replace a tooth that was unable to be restored. A bridge requires the preparation of the adjacent teeth to support the bridge. The treatment process is very similar to the crown process. Bridges are custom fabricated to meet your child’s specific dental needs and are a very attractive option to replace missing teeth.

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Root Canals

When decay or infection on a permanent tooth extends into the nerve of the tooth a root canal is performed to remove the infected nerve tissue. After removing the decay in the tooth, the nerve of the tooth is removed and the tooth is cleaned internally. Then the root is filled with a rubber-like material called gutta percha.

After a root canal, the tooth will need to be restored with either a filling or a crown. Teeth in the front of the mouth may be filled with composite fillings or crowns to cover the root canal access depending on the situation. Teeth in the back of the mouth will need to be covered with a crown in order to protect them from fracturing in the future.

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Call (434) 817-1817 to Schedule Your Appointment

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