Your mouth consists of both soft and hard tissues, such as the lips, tongue, teeth and jawbone, as well as blood vessels and nerves. In order to work properly, you need strong teeth and bone, good blood supply, and proper nerve and joint function. When there are co-existing problems such as a severe overbite, missing teeth and multiple cavities, you and your mouth will be less healthy. These cases are often a reason for a full mouth reconstruction.
What is a Full Mouth Reconstruction?
As the name implies, full mouth reconstruction - also known as reconstructive dentistry – includes a variety of procedures done close together to replace missing teeth, properly align the jawbone, address gum damage or treat oral and dental diseases. A full mouth reconstruction is not cosmetic dentistry, although it may include some cosmetic procedures. The primary goal is to improve the health of your mouth and teeth and prevent more serious problems farther down the road.
Am I a Good Candidate?
The three most common reasons for reconstruction like this are congenital problems, traumatic injury and multiple severe oral health problems such as severe cavities, infections and bone degradation in the jaw. Age and other medical problems may have an impact on the possible procedures, anesthesia and other treatments. The oral surgeon might modify the treatment plan for an older patient. For example, mini-implants rather than traditional implants might be used in someone over the age of 80. Those who cannot or will not practice good oral hygiene habits, those who use illegal drugs and those who smoke heavily or drink alcohol heavily may not be good candidates.
What Are the Most Common Procedures?
Reconstruction may include one or more of the following procedures:
Restorative Dental Treatments – these are treatments used to restore the health of one or more teeth. They can include dental bridges, dental crowns and fillings. The dentist may also use inlays, which is the application of material such as porcelain, gold or composite resin laid on top of a tooth between the cusps (edges) – or onlays, which are similar but cover the cusps as well. Technically, a filling is a type of inlay, but it is performed with a metal amalgam.
Implant Dentistry – this type of dentistry is the replacement of missing teeth with implants. The implant is placed in the bone of the jaw and after it heals, a prosthetic tooth is attached. Implants help maintain bone health in a way that dentures cannot.
Cosmetic Dentistry – while teeth whitening is perhaps the best know of these treatments, cosmetic dentistry may also include the application of veneers, re-contouring gums or bonding teeth.
Neuromuscular Dentistry/Temporomandibular Disorder treatment – the temporomandibular joint (where the jaw bone attaches to the skull) can cause bite problems and jaw pain as well as clicking, cracking and popping noises. Known as temporomandibular joint (TMJ) problems, these result from a poor fit between the jawbone and jaw.
Bruxism treatments – bruxism is more commonly called teeth grinding. It can contribute to TMJ disorder and cause other problems such as excessive or uneven tooth wear.
Orthodontics – orthodontia treatment includes metal braces, clear plastic Invisalign aligners, retainers, headgear, spaces and expanders. All help straighten the teeth and move them into proper positions.
Oral surgery – tooth extractions are the most common and best-known oral surgery, but these procedures also include grafting of soft and hard tissues and root canals.
Periodontal treatments – scaling and root planing are common treatments, but this field also includes a wide variety of oral surgeries such as bone grafts in the jaw, jaw realignments or facial reconstruction.
What are the Health Benefits?
Oral health problems can cause infections, especially if untreated. They can also result in nutritional problems if you can't properly chew or swallow food. The cosmetic impact can affect an individual's self-esteem. Even more important, untreated oral health problems have been implicated in heart disease and other serious conditions.
Reconstruction improves the patient's appearance. More importantly, it improves the patient's health, relieves pain and helps treat infections. If you have multiple oral health issues, consult a dentist about a full mouth reconstruction.