The Importance of Polishing a Tooth Restoration

Tooth polishing

Although many forms of tooth restorations are designed to last a lifetime, dentists are still seeing a large number of patients returning for treatment when their restorations fail. In fact, it’s reported that around 10 percent of tooth restorations fail, and replacement now accounts for the majority of surgery undertaken by dentists in the United States today. So what can dentists be doing to improve success?

Why Tooth Restorations Fail

When a tooth restoration fails, it’s very easy for the patient to place the blame on the dentist’s own experience and skills, or on the material that was used for the restoration. However, while these are important factors, one of the main reasons for a failed restoration is a lack of proper finishing and polishing. These are essential aspects that are all too frequently overlooked in clinics today.

Polishing: A New Trend

While all dentists know that polishing is very important for cosmetic work, its role in restorations isn’t given as great a focus. An important question to ask is ‘why?’ While there’s no definitive answer, we can safely assume that previous failures in polishing restorations have played a big role. Looking back to when composite materials were first used for restorations, many fillers were quartz-based. As we know, quartz doesn’t polish well, and despite best efforts, patients were still left with sharp, jagged edges.

Restoration practices then evolved without the inclusion of polishing, which didn’t really contribute anything to the finished effect at the time. However, we’ve come a long way from the composites of the 1950’s and 60’s, and today’s microfilled composites lend themselves very well to polishing and finishing.

Why Polish?

Polishing and finishing correctly really can mean the difference between a successful and an unsuccessful tooth restoration. Here are just some of the reasons to include tooth polishing in your processes:

  • Polishing a tooth restoration helps to create a smoother surface with lower levels of adhesion, reducing the risk of plaque build ups and staining, leaving the tooth healthy for longer.
  • The smooth finish created by polishing a tooth restoration can significantly minimize the risk of irritation to the gums, reducing sores, bleeding, and maintaining the health of the tissue.
  • Polishing tools provide a shinier, more reflective surface, encouraging a natural smile. A patient who is satisfied with their treatment may be more likely to take care of their teeth in the future.

Best Polishing Practices

There are a number of polishing processes that are regularly used in clinics, and every dentist has their own preferences. However, for tooth polishing, diamond-based finishers are often recommended, as they are said to be the most effective at minimizing the abrasive qualities of the composite, and leaving a smoother surface.

But it’s not just about material. A good polish is also about coarseness, too. It’s important to use a selection for polishing a tooth restoration. Course polishers can help with contouring and shaping, a medium coarse polisher can work to remove imperfections, and a fine polisher can bring out the shine of the tooth.

Gazelle nanocomposite polishers from Microcopy is a 2-step polishing system that offers a Satin and a Hi-gloss finish. The Satin finish is ideal for all restorations. Then follow up with a Hi-gloss polisher if a higher luster is desired on anterior restorations.

The proper finishing and polishing is a key component for maximum restorative success. There are a lot of great polishing options available. Try out a few and find a polishing system that gives your patients the best restoration while keeping your schedule predictable.

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