Information About Common Procedures
Please talk to your dental surgeon who will be happy to answer any questions you may have regarding common procedures.
Fillings are used to repair a hole in a tooth caused by decay. The most common type of filling is an amalgam, made from a mixture of metals including mercury, silver, tin, copper and zinc. Your dentist will offer the most appropriate type of filling according to your clinical needs. This includes white fillings, if appropriate.
Amalgam and white fillings are available on the NHS (band 2).
Root canal treatment
Root canal treatment (also called endodontics) tackles infection at the centre of a tooth (the root canal system).
When the blood or nerve supply of the tooth has become infected, if root canal treatment is not carried out, the infection will spread and the tooth may need to be taken out.
During treatment, all the infection is removed from inside the root canal system. The root canal is filled and the tooth is sealed with a filling or crown to stop it from becoming infected again. Root canal treatment usually requires two or three visits to your dentist.
Read more about root canal treatment.
Root canal treatment is available on the NHS (band 2).
Dentures or false teeth
More commonly known as false teeth, dentures are fitted in place of natural teeth. A full set is used to replace all your teeth. A part set is used to replace one or more missing teeth. Dentures are custom-made using impressions (mouldings) from your gums. They're usually made from metal or plastic.
They're removable so you can clean them, although part dentures can be brushed at the same time as your other teeth. A full set needs to be removed and soaked in a cleaning solution.
Dentures are important if you lose your natural teeth, as losing your teeth makes it difficult to chew your food, which will adversely affect your diet and may cause your facial muscles to sag.
Dentures are available on the NHS (band 3).
Read more about dentures and false teeth.
A crown is a type of cap that completely covers a real tooth. It's made from either metal, or porcelain and metal, and is fixed in your mouth. Crowns can be fitted where a tooth has broken, decayed or been damaged, or just to make a tooth look better.
To fit a crown, the old tooth will need to be drilled down so it's like a small peg the crown will be fixed onto. It can take some time for the lab to prepare a new crown, so you probably won't have the crown fitted on the same day.
Crowns are available on the NHS (band 3).
A bridge is a fixed replacement for a missing tooth or teeth. It's made by taking an impression of the surrounding teeth, which will eventually support the bridge. A bridge is usually created from precious metal and porcelain and will be fixed in your mouth (unlike dentures, which can be removed).
Bridges are available on the NHS (band 3).
Veneers are new facings for teeth which disguise a discoloured (rather than a damaged) tooth.
To fit a veneer, the front of the tooth is drilled away a little. An impression is taken, and a thin layer of porcelain is fitted over the front of the tooth (similar to how a false fingernail is applied).
Veneers are generally only available privately unless you can show a clinical need for them.