Dental Restorations Part 6: Final Thoughts

There is one concept that is extremely significant when selecting a restorative material, and that is the risk for retreatment. A tooth can only receive so many restorations throughout its lifetime. The sooner one has to be replaced, the sooner additional tooth structure is lost, and the sooner the tooth is on its way to a crown, a potential root canal, or an extraction and implant. Not to mention, the costs incurred to accomplish these things. Long-lasting restorations can spare tremendous medical and financial liability, and allow our teeth to continue serving as a benefit.

Something that causes me sadness is when a person visits with restorations that they assumed would last as alternative options, are failing, and need replacement. This can be an exhausting cycle that seems to never end. A patient will be forever dependent upon a dentist once the first restoration is placed in their mouth, however, the degree of dependability can be influenced by the material used to restore their teeth.

With appearance versus function, it is important to know how tooth-colored and metal restorations compare. As dental work accumulates, the financial costs of maintenance, visits, and re-treatment can amount to more than six figures throughout life. Many don’t consider this in the immediate moment, or that most direct restorations such as composites or amalgams can be provided with ceramic or metal (even gold) inlays and onlays. While the cost is higher up front for long-lasting dental work, the benefits can be exceptional.

Ultimately, every case is different, and comparisons are hard to make. A person with good oral hygiene can make bad dentistry last a long time, while a person with poor oral hygiene can make great dentistry fail quickly. But there are trends that can be predicted. As a member of the generation of dentistry where multiple restorative options exist, I consider it imperative to know the differences when selecting a material to restore your teeth. So what is the right blend of esthetics and function? Is beauty something that looks good for several years and warrants replacement, something that performs for a potential lifetime, or something in-between? Is the best dentist the one who makes the most beautiful result, or the result that lasts the longest? All answers are both objective and subjective. In the end, I believe in choosing whatever option will make your teeth an asset to your life, and not a liability.

The moral of the story is nothing is as perfect as our original teeth, but if they get damaged, many good things can be done to fix them, and for everybody’s individual preferences. It is nice to know that all the restorations we use to treat our teeth offer enormous benefits to improve life after a tooth is damaged. You’ll have to make the decision about what is best for you. Hopefully reading this has helped you better understand many of the restorative options that exist for something so personal to our health, happiness, and identity, as our very own teeth.