Unlike most cosmetic dentistry procedures, a full mouth reconstruction is usually done out of necessity, not simply because of aesthetics. The need can arise from any number of conditions or situations, including decay, trauma, severely worn down teeth, or pain from jaw problems. A full mouth reconstruction is usually only considered when less invasive options such as crowns, bridges and veneers are not viable options. It is a lengthy process, sometimes taking a year or more to be fully completed.
The first step in preparing for a full mouth reconstruction is to visit a qualified dentist or prosthodontist who can evaluate the health of the teeth, gums and jaw. Any issues that need immediate treatment will be addressed, including pain, gum disease or broken teeth. This is important because the condition of the teeth, gums and jaws will determine which procedures are needed for a successful reconstruction.
Some patients need to have all of their teeth replaced, while others will be able to save some of their natural teeth and perhaps improve them through various cosmetic dentistry and oral surgery procedures. Depending on the health of the gums, patients may need to treat periodontal disease or bone density irregularities in order to ensure that their new teeth have a strong foundation. Finally, a stable bite that does not cause pain or tooth erosion when the mouth is opened and closed is a must. Orthodontic treatments or jaw surgeries may be required in order to correct the bite before any other full mouth reconstruction procedures can be performed.
Once the urgent problems are addressed, the dentist or prosthodontist will go through a variety of tests and exams in order to gather the information that will inform the treatment plan. This can include taking X-rays, making models of the teeth, and physically examining all of the oral structures. Every full mouth reconstruction is different and requires customized treatments – there is no “typical” procedure. Because of this, patients are encouraged to ask many questions to make sure they fully understand each step of the procedure and why it is being recommended.
Concerns and Recovery
Because each full mouth reconstruction is unique, recovery times vary. Most of the time, the necessary procedures are spaced out over several months in order to stage the process and provide ample recovery time between steps.
In general, younger patients tend to heal more quickly after reconstructive dental procedures. For older patients, there is naturally more risk involved with any kind of medical or dental procedure, including full mouth reconstruction. Therefore, treatment plans for older patients tend to involve less invasive procedures. For instance, a dentist may recommend that a patient over 80 years old try mini dental implants or even dentures rather than traditional dental implants.
Patients with heart problems or certain autoimmune diseases may also need special considerations before undergoing full mouth reconstruction. Dentists and prosthodontists need to be given complete medical histories, as well as lists of current medications.
Finally, patients who do not maintain good oral health will probably not enjoy lasting results from full mouth reconstruction. Even smoking, heavy alcohol consumption, and illegal drugs can compromise oral health and damage the results.
Insurance and Expenses
Full mouth reconstruction can be extremely expensive, and many cases can cost $30,000 or more. Dental insurance may pay some of the costs, depending on the diagnosis, treatment plan and coverage allowances. Even with dental insurance, patients can often expect to pay a large percentage of the cost out of pocket. That’s why many dental offices work with patients to devise a payment plan that will break the final cost down into more affordable monthly payments.
Anyone in need of a full mouth reconstruction is encouraged to carefully check and compare the credentials of several dentists and prosthodontists. There is also an artistic element to the process because the color, shape, size and proportion of the teeth must be considered, as well as how the new teeth will impact the appearance of the lips, mouth and facial structure. The procedure is highly customized and not very common, so it’s important to see a reputable provider.