Updated 17 January 2018

Commonly asked questions about restorative dentistry

Damaged, loose, cracked or missing teeth need to be repaired, restored or made to look more natural by means of restorative dentistry. Here are some expert tips on restorative and cosmetic dentistry by prosthodontist, Dr.Kaplan

Q. The crown in the front of my mouth doesn’t match the rest of my teeth, and looks “fake”. Can it be fixed?

A. In restorative dentistry it is very hard to match a front tooth, and this requires great care and expertise on the part of the dentist and ceramist. You need to find a cosmetic dentist who works with a “master ceramist”. If several teeth are involved, bonding or porcelain laminates might be the way to go.  

Q. What’s the difference between a cap and a crown? 

A. There is no difference. The dentist reduces the surface of the tooth, which is then replaced with e.g. porcelain or porcelain bonded to metal. 

Q. What can be done about a lost tooth?

A. Restorative dentistry can solve the problem in a number of ways:

  • Teeth can be bonded back
  • A removable appliance can be fitted
  • A fixed bridge can hold the tooth in place
  • An implant can be done
  • A crown can be fitted 

Q. Is there any difference between bonding and porcelain laminate veneers?

A. Bonding is done with a tooth-coloured plastic composite resin. This can be done quickly without anaesthesia and without much tooth reduction. Porcelain laminate veneers are better for masking unsightly stains with less of a risk of chipping than in the case of bonding. These veneers can be fitted in two sessions and offer more of a choice in terms of colour and shape. 

Q. Are veneers a lot more expensive than bonding?

A. Veneers usually cost twice to three times as much as bonding. The book Change Your Smile (Quintessence Publishing Company) discusses the fees and the pros and cons for all restorative dentistry procedures.  

How long do bonding and veneers last?

A. Bonding usually lasts from three to eight years and porcelain laminate veneers last four to twelve years or sometimes even longer.

Q. Shouldn’t I rather have the tooth pulled instead of getting expensive root canal treatment?

A. In the long run root canal treatment isn’t that expensive. If you can save the tooth, it means that all your teeth stay in place and there’s no risk of shifting, and you also don’t need to spend any money on bridges or implants.

Q. Wouldn’t it be simpler just to have all my teeth pulled to avoid any future problems with my teeth? 

A. This is not a good idea as dentures aren’t always the best answer. When there are no more teeth, bone is constantly lost, which means that dentures never fit properly and have to be remade on an ongoing basis. Dentures are also never as good as natural teeth and taste and speech for example are compromised.

Even if only the root of a tooth can be saved, the patient can have good, long-lasting teeth constructed on the basis of that. If dentures cannot be avoided, dental implants can be used to anchor them and add stability.

Q. Can the space between my two front teeth be closed? 

A. This can be done in a number of ways:

  • The best choice is orthodontics (requires a number of visits)
  • Bonding (only one visit)
  • Porcelain laminate veneers (two visits)
  • Having crowns fitted (two visits)

Q. I think my teeth are too small. Is it possible to have them enlarged?

A. It is quite possible, using composite resin bonding, porcelain laminate veneers or full crowns, in the case of broken teeth. A diagnostic wax–up will allow you to see how you look with longer or wider teeth.

 Q. My pointed eye teeth make me look like a vampire. What can I do about it?

A. The best procedure would be cosmetic contouring or reshaping your natural teeth. This can be done in one appointment.

Q. Is there anything that can be done about my uneven teeth?

A. This can be fixed with cosmetic contouring, porcelain laminate veneers, orthodontics, bonding, or crowns. 

Q. My teeth were broken, chipped and cracked by a blow to the face. Is there anything I can do?

A. Translumination or an intraoral camera can be used to determine the damage. You have three choices to solve the problem:

  • Bonding
  • Porcelain laminate veneers
  • Porcelain crowns

Q. Can my big, dark silver fillings be made the same colour as the rest of my teeth? 

A. Yes. You can have them replaced with any of the following tooth-coloured options:

  • Composite (plastic) resin
  • Porcelain inlay/onlay
  • Porcelain crowns
  • Porcelain inlays

Q. Are braces the only way to fix my protruding teeth?

A. A restorative dentistry consultation can help you find a compromise and possible options include:  

  • Cosmetic contouring
  • Bonding
  • Porcelain laminate veneers
  • Crowns (Orthodontics is usually the best choice in this case.)

Q. When I smile, my teeth don’t show.

A. Orthodontics can bring your teeth down so that they’ll show when you smile, but orthognathic surgery may also work. A possible compromise could also be bonding, porcelain laminate veneers or full crowns.


Ask the Expert

Oral health expert

Dr Imraan Hoosen qualified from the Medical University of South Africa in 1997. Together with his partner, Dr Hoosen now runs a group of dental practices around Johannesburg (Lesedi Private Hospital, Highlands North Medical Centre , Brenthurst Clinic, Parklane Clinic, Simmonds Street Medical and Dental Centre, Soni Medical Centre- Newclare). Dr Hoosen can be contacted on 011 933 4096.

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