Restorative dentistry specializes in problems of the teeth and their surrounding structures with the goal of repairing damage and restoring the teeth to their normal condition. In some cases restorative dentistry also involves problems that are not specifically damage-related, such as improper alignment of the jaws and muscles.
This field has gone through a technological revolution in recent years, with soft tissue lasers replacing drills for many procedures. While drills are still used in some instances, many dental procedures are now much less painful and stressful than they once were.
Another procedure that has gotten a lot of publicity in recent years is Invisalign treatment for mild to moderate orthodontic problems. For many patients, this treatment has completely eliminated that old curse of adolescence, braces. Minor alignment corrections, which are usually done when the patient is young, can now be accomplished with custom aligner trays made of transparent plastic which are completely invisible and more comfortable that the old “railroad” braces of yesteryear.
An area of restorative dentistry that has benefitted from advances in technology is the treatment of temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ). One out of every nine Americans has this condition, many without realizing it. It occurs when the temporomandibular joint connecting upper and lower jaws is not properly aligned, resulting in pain that involves the jaw, the face and sometimes even the neck and shoulders. The dentist can now use computer imaging technology to establish an occlusional baseline, which provides an individualized plan of treatment for the specific needs of the patient.
This same imaging allows the patient to see what the result will look like before the procedure happens. While the computer simulation may not be exact, it can give the patient a good idea of what to expect.
With all of these advancements and more, a restorative dental operation isn’t the ordeal that it once was. Drills and old-style braces are rapidly disappearing, to be replaced by a new arsenal of techniques and tools. Now restorative dentistry can do its job better than ever before, making beautiful smiles with only minor discomfort and much less anxiety.