A: Full mouth reconstruction can vary in different kinds of processes. Generally speaking, we’ll talk about full mouth reconstruction as using our teeth as the foundation to improve a smile. Many times we’re taking care of decay, broken teeth, and missing teeth all at the same time. Sometimes, we need to mix and match methods—we can use All-on-Four with implants as well as crown or bridges. Full mouth reconstruction is a lot of dental work all at one time to fix a lot of problems.
Full Mouth Reconstruction Is Essential For Missing Teeth
Lately, we’ve gotten a lot of questions from patients suffering from missing teeth and their options going forward. Unfortunately, we are hearing a disturbing lack of awareness regarding the impact of missing teeth on your health.
The reason we are concerned is many patients are asking us if tooth replacement options like full mouth reconstruction are really necessary. Other times, they ask why we don’t advocate for dentures in most cases. This is concerning because missing teeth create a much bigger health problem and birth new ones if not restored.
The fact is, most adults aren’t missing any teeth aside from extenuating circumstances. However, once adults reach their senior years many have lost one, multiple, or even all of their teeth, In fact, a recent study showed that one in four people over 60 have lost both arches.
Why Do We Lose Teeth?
Tooth loss can be a result of many causes but the most common are decay, gum disease, tooth decay, and dental trauma.
Gum disease attacks at the gum tissue and ligaments that hold your tooth in place. Gums give you stability and are the foundation for your teeth. Also, most don’t realize that gums also protect the roots of your teeth, which foster jawbone growth.
Tooth decay is a result of bacteria turning accumulated starches and sugars in your mouth into destructive acids. These acids eat away the protective enamel layer on your teeth and can cause cavities that kill a tooth.
Serious dental trauma be it from sports, car accidents or other incidents can cause tooth loss and jawbone damage. Often though, the trauma goes undetected for months or years, leaving a tooth exposed and needing extraction.
Each Tooth Plays A Critical Role
All teeth work together for a common goal, but each tooth has it’s own specific role as well. Depending on the size, location, and shape of the tooth their task is different. Some are for chewing, others enhance how you speak, and some are cosmetic. Your teeth also define and maintain the structural appearance of your mouth.
All of your teeth are co-dependent on one another to provide overall stability and a healthy bite. When one tooth is missing all of the teeth are susceptible to damage or misalignment. Often the problems compound and lead to more serious issues.
Teeth shifting occurs when the missing tooth allows other teeth to push themselves out of alignment. This affects bites, puts pressure on other teeth, and can cause a buildup of bacteria that can lead to serious gum disease.
Bone Loss takes place sometime after a tooth is missing and there is nothing to take its place. You see, the jawbone needs stimulation to continue to grow. When a tooth root is no longer there to stimulate the bone, it becomes atrophied. Eventually the jawbone will disappear around where that tooth used to be. This bone loss can cause more serious and noticeable problems such as a sunken in face and more which can wreck your self-image.
Full Mouth Reconstruction And Other Solutions
There are three common options to choose from when dealing with missing one or more teeth. That being said, let’s take a look at these solutions as well as the pros and cons. Keep in mind, the American Dental Association (ADA) emphasizes that permanent solutions are best option. However, you should choose the solution that best fits your budget and dental circumstances.
Implants by far, have become the most favored solution among patients and dentists and for good reason. Whether it’s a single missing tooth, multiple teeth, or even a full arch—implants are vastly superior. While they are more expensive up front, in the long run they can end up costing the same as dentures. They also save you money by avoiding other health problems that result from missing teeth.
No other option feels, functions, and looks as natural as dental implants. The implant itself is not visible as it’s covered by the restorative crown which is made of material just as strong as teeth. The implant itself is completely safe as it is made from biocompatible titanium that is implanted into your jawbone.
That last factoid is crucial because, provided your jawbone is healthy, the bone begins to bond with the implant. This preserves your jawbone as well as your facial structure, as without that it would deteriorate.
One of the other great advantages of dental implants and full mouth reconstruction is that smile, bite, speech, and chewing remains unchanged. The same cannot be said for other options that do not provide that seamless transition at all—not even close.
Full mouth reconstruction takes dental implants and streamlines the process when a full set of teeth is needed. This process basically completely rebuilds your entire set of teeth using implants in a modular format.
Essentially, a medical device that looks like a denture is mounted permanently onto 4-6 implants strategically anchored into your jaw. This makes the process quicker and most smiles can be rebuilt in a single day. The pain is very minimal and most patients return to work the next day and there is no adjustment period. They feel like your own teeth, only they will never decay.
When you only need a few teeth replaced but not a full arch, one budget option is a fixed bridge. A bridge is comprised of several replacement teeth on a metal frame. The frame is removable and supported by the remaining healthy teeth on either side.
If you are a good candidate for dental implants and can afford them, this is not an ideal option for you. This is because the teeth on either side must be ground down to make room for the bridge. Quite literally, you are intentionally damaging healthy teeth to replace missing ones.
This would only be your option if your jawbone has deteriorated to the point where implants have nothing to work with. If you still have sufficient jawbone material but absolutely can’t afford implants, bridges are your best option financially. However, can’t stress enough that it is not ideal if you can avoid it.
Complete dentures are actually like full mouth reconstruction with one huge difference and disadvantage. They aren’t a permanent solution that maintains jawbone integrity. Dentures are basically the budget version of full mouth reconstruction—they are, however, not all that economical. What we mean is, sure, they have a lower initial cost but the long term cost is the kicker.
You see, dentures since they don’t maintain the jawbone integrity will lose their fit as the facial and jaw structure changes. This means replacement or repair and the average dentures cost about $5,000 for good ones. On average most patients have to replace dentures every 5-6 years vs. implants which never need replacement.
So essentially, those “economical” dentures may turn out to cost just as much as implants. Dentures are also an option if you are not a good candidate for dental implants. Just keep in mind dentures take a lot of adjustment and may alter speech and restrict what foods you can eat.
Are You A Candidate For Full Mouth Reconstruction?
The only way you will know if you’re a good candidate for full mouth reconstruction or dental implants is with an evaluation.
At Vela Dental Center we provide free consultations for full mouth reconstruction so we can determine your options. Dr. Vela will walk you through any circumstances, options and what you can do next to make the process go smoothly.
All you need to do is contact us to get the ball rolling and be on your way to enjoying your smile again.