Very few people have perfect teeth. Probably everyone reading this may have had at least one filling. That’s not just a lucky guess. The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, which is part of the National Institute of Health, reviewed research in 2018 that showed:

  • 92% of adults 20-64 have had cavities in their permanent teeth
  • 96% of adults 50-64 have cavities, missing, or filled permanent teeth
  • 26% of adults 20-64 have untreated decay

Getting a filling in a decayed tooth is the most common dental procedure, but there are several others that are performed regularly, many of which a majority of Americans will need sometime in their lives. 

Of all the procedures Dr. Brei performs, the most common dental procedures, other than getting a cavity filled, seem to be:

  • Bridges and Implants
  • Dental crowns
  • Tooth extraction
  • Root canals
  • Teeth whitening

Statistically, most of us have had a cavity filled, and we know what that was and why it was done. But what are those other common procedures listed and what do they involve?

Bridges and Implants

Both bridges and implants are used to take the place of missing teeth. 

  • Bridges – A dental bridge uses the teeth adjacent to the missing tooth to support a prosthetic tooth.  Bridges are especially effective if being used to replace a tooth that has been missing for a long time. 
  • Implants – Much more permanent and stable than bridges, dental implants don’t require that  there be teeth adjacent to the tooth that’s being replaced. 

Dental Crowns 

Also known as a dental cap, the crown is a tooth-shaped cap that is placed over a damaged tooth, restoring the tooth’s shape, size, strength, and appearance. Crowns are cemented onto a tooth, covering what would have been the visible portion of the tooth. 

According to WebMD, there  are five materials from which a crown can be made:

  • Metal crowns – The most durable of all crown materials. Because of their bright, metallic appearance, metals are commonly used on molars or teeth that are not too visible. The type of metals used is gold, palladium, nickel, chromium, and stainless steel, which is often used as a temporary crown. 
  • Porcelain-fused-to-metal crowns – With a more natural tooth color, these crowns can be matched to teeth around them. The downside is that sometimes the metal shows through the porcelain, or the porcelain can chip, exposing the underlying metal. 
  • All-ceramic or all-porcelain crowns – Not as strong as porcelain-over-metal, these crowns are better at matching the color and natural appearance of other teeth and are often used for front teeth.  
  • Pressed ceramic crowns – A hard inner ceramic core, which replaces the metal in porcelain-fused-to-metal crowns, is capped with porcelain, providing an excellent color match. More durable than an all-ceramic or all-porcelain crown. 
  • All-resin crowns – Less expensive than other types of crowns, they also wear down faster and are more likely to break than metal or porcelain crowns. 

Tooth Extraction

There are many reasons a tooth may need to be removed, the most common being when a tooth has been damaged beyond repair and extraction is the only alternative. When a tooth does need to be removed, there are two types of tooth extraction:

  • Simple extraction – When there is some part of the tooth visible above the gum line, the dentist can loosen the tooth and remove it.
  • Surgical extraction – If a tooth has broken off at or below the gum line, has grown in an incorrect position, or is impacted and has failed to erupt an oral surgeon will make a small incision into the gum and remove the impacted or broken tooth. 

Root Canals

If a dentist can somehow save a damaged tooth, they will. While a tooth may suffer extreme damage to the pulp, when there is enough of the tooth that is undamaged, dentists will opt to save and restore the tooth rather than extract it. 

  • Why does someone need a root canal? – According to WebMD, teeth have a soft core called dental pulp. The pulp extends from the crown—the part of the tooth you can see above the gumline—to the tooth’s root in the jawbone. The pulp contains nerves, blood vessels and connective tissue. When a tooth is cracked or has a deep cavity, bacteria can enter the pulp. Untreated, bacteria and decaying material can cause a serious infection or a tooth abscess. 
  • What’s the procedure? – After viewing your X-rays to determine the extent of the infection, Dr. Brei will determine whether a root canal is the best course of action and may refer you to an endodontist—a dentist specializing in root canals.  The endodontist will administer local anesthesia to numb the tooth and will then access the inside of the tooth. 

Additional steps, such as irrigating the root chamber or applying an antimicrobial 

solution in the chamber, might be employed to kill any remaining bacteria and reduce the risk of 

further infection. 

It’s advised that, several weeks after the procedure, patients make an appointment with Dr. 

Brei’s office, so  an  X-ray can be taken of the treated tooth. 

Teeth Whitening 

The first home tooth-bleaching system wasn’t introduced until 1989, although people have employed various methods for whitening their teeth for 4,000 years. Many substances used to whiten teeth actually eroded the enamel, inviting cavities. In the late 1960s, tray bleaching, using carbamide peroxide, was introduced and found to be safe and effective. Although home bleaching is still relatively popular, it’s generally agreed that the procedure is best left to the professionals.   

Today, for normal yellowing, dentists will apply a bleaching gel to the teeth which is cured through the use of a tungsten halogen or LED light. For other, more extreme discoloration, bonding—a composite material applied to the teeth and cured with a blue light.

Whitening by the dentist is faster, safer, and more effective than home-bleaching. Often, the chemicals used in home bleaching can irritate the gums or other soft tissue. Dentists are careful that bleaching material only comes in contact with teeth. 

Whether you’re in need of one of the procedures listed above, or you have other dental concerns, it’s best to discuss your options  with Dr. Brei. 

There are many ways to get in touch with the office of Dr. Brei. You can make an appointment via email at, call at 520-325-9000, or click here to book online and schedule an appointment directly.  Dr. Brei and his professional staff look forward to meeting you during 2021!