Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Partial Coverage Restorations

One of our primary goals in providing you with the optimal oral care is to preserve as much of your natural dentition as possible.  Prevention of oral disease is the best way to accomplish this goal.  Unfortunately, dental decay is the most common disease known to the human body.  In the early stages the caries process can be reversed with the use of fluoride.  If, however, the decay progresses to the point when a filling is required, the decay can be removed and the tooth restored very conservatively with tooth-colored bonded direct restorations.  Direct restoration means that it is begun and completed in the office in one appointment.  Although tooth structure must be removed in this event, the amount removed is small and the strength of the tooth is not significantly compromised.  This should be reason enough to go to the dentist to have your teeth examined and cleaned on a regular basis.  Needs differ, but most adults should go two to four times each year.

If the tooth has a moderate to large amount of tooth structure to be replaced, a direct restoration will not be as successful.  For these teeth, a laboratory or externally processed restoration is more appropriate.  These are not the same as crown (cap).  A crown involves removing a maximum amount of tooth structure.  The cast restoration is then fitted over the prepared tooth, as a thimble fits over a fingertip.  No natural tooth can be seen.  While full cast crowns do have a proven track record of success, a great amount of tooth structure is sacrificed.

Partial coverage restorations can be made of gold, resin, porcelain, or ceramic materials.  The gold restorations are the least esthetic.  The color is similar to that of a gold wedding ring.  The other three materials are tooth-colored and provide a wonderful match to your natural tooth structure.

There are several advantages that you will realize with partial coverage restorations.  They require that less tooth structure be removed than for a crown so they are small in size.  This conservative preparation preserves much of the tooth adjacent to the gum tissue, providing much better opportunity for excellent periodontal health.  With the edges of the restoration above the gum, the restoration becomes easier to check for continued service.  New decay is more easily seen and treated at an early stage.  The chances of drilling of the tooth, the potential risk for future nerve damage, and a resulting root canal all decrease.

On the negative side, the partial coverage restorations are harder for the dentist to prepare and place.  They are very technique sensitive and time-consuming.  This contributes to a higher fee along with the necessary laboratory fees for processing the restoration.  But the result is well worth the extra effort and cost.  The maximum amount of sound, natural tooth is preserved.  There is nothing a dentist can put in your mouth that is as good as an undrilled, undamaged tooth.  The less the dentist must drill, the better off you will be, over both the short and long term.  We will always suggest to you the most appropriate treatment and material based on your individual oral needs.

If you have any questions about partial coverage restorations, please feel free to ask us at (512)250-5012.

Information directly from, "Dental Practice Tool Kit: Patient Handouts, Forms, and Letters," 2004, Elsavier Inc.

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