If you’re lucky, your trips to the dentist are just to get your teeth cleaned and your gums stabbed. That’s a perfectly normal experience that happens about twice a year. You leave feeling refreshed and imagining the arc of your acting career now that you have such beautiful, white teeth. Awesome. But sadly, the dentist doesn’t exist solely to whiten your teeth. There are all kinds of things that can go wrong with your chompers, and the dentist is there to fix them. So what are the most common dental procedures, and what should you expect from each one?
Crowns are pretty much what they sound like—a covering that’s placed over the top of a damaged tooth. Crowns are usually used if a tooth is severely chipped, decayed, or damaged in some other way. The dentist will grind down the remainder of the tooth and then place the crown over it. And yes, you can totally get a gold crown, although they are also made of different metals and porcelain.
This one is pretty simple, and many people have a few of them. If there’s a simple cavity on the surface of your tooth, the dentist will fill the hole with either a silver metal or white composite material, stopping the decay from growing. And you definitely don’t want that decay to grow because that would mean you need…
3. Root Canals
Yeah, so you may have heard that root canals are really painful, but that’s not totally accurate. It’s the pain before the root canal that can be really bad. Remember that scene in Castaway where Tom Hanks knocks his tooth out with an ice skate? Classic. Anyway, he probably just needed a root canal. That’s because the toothache is caused by the decay of a tooth all the way down to the roots. The dentist has to drill a hole through the tooth to gain access to the pulp material and roots. At that point they clean out the roots and pulp and fill it with a permanent filling, saving you from removal by ice skate. The procedure itself is actually painless with the use of anesthetic.
Usually your dentist is going to try to save your teeth. Movies always have a crazy dentist that’s all about pulling teeth, but it’s really more of a last resort. If the tooth is too decayed or broken, then your dentist will probably perform an extraction to get it out of there.
And if you do get a tooth pulled, know that you’ve got some options for replacing it. A bridge, also known as a fixed removable denture, can be made to replace one or more teeth. Dental implants are metal posts surgically placed in the jawbone to act as an anchor for your replacement teeth.
Dental procedures aren’t known for being very fun, but they can be a good time if your dentist has a Molar Media Mount. Ask your dentist about it next time you’re in for a cleaning!