Teeth that are decayed, worn, broken or affected by gum disease may need to be restored by your dentist. The most common type of tooth damage is decay, mainly caused by eating or drinking sugary food and drinks. Your risk of developing decay can also be increased if you have poor oral hygiene, for example, not brushing or cleaning between your teeth properly.
Treatment options include fillings, crowns, veneers, inlays, onlays and root fillings. The extent of the damage to your teeth will determine which treatment is most suitable for you. Your dentist will discuss the options with you.
Fillings are used to fill holes (cavities) that have formed, usually as a result of decay or tooth wear. There are many types of filling, each suitable for different cavities.
Most people have a local anaesthetic injection to completely numb the area while the filling is being done. The numbness can take several hours to wear off.
If you're nervous of having an injection, ask your dentist if you can have an anaesthetic gel applied to the appropriate area of the gum instead. This gel numbs the gum so you can't feel the needle.
Leeds Dental Institute, ranked the top school in the UK for dentistry is currently looking at new and better ways to improve dental treatment and take the fear factor out of the patient experience for good.
Professor Jennifer Kirkham, Research Director of Leeds Dental Institute explains: "The laboratory is looking to find safe new ways to control plaque which do not rely on toothpaste. We see patients in the clinic who are not able to brush effectively the shape of the mouth may not allow sufficient access, the patient could be disabled or just not a proficient brusher.
"One of the new treatments makes use of a readily available compound in an innovative way to control plaque formation, using photo dynamic therapy (PDT). The patient uses a mouth wash containing an anti-bacterial agent which is activated by bright light and results in plaque destruction. This is trialled in the clinic and patient feedback helps researchers identify where further modifications are needed.
"The principle of working from bench to clinic and back to bench will see a circle of constant improvements to oral health and it is this partnership with patients which ensures research has an impact."