Reconstructive dentistry is the practice or process of rebuilding a person’s teeth, gums, jaw or any combination of these in an otherwise normal mouth. It is more extensive than cosmetic dentistry, and is usually performed under conscious sedation. The difference between cosmetic and reconstructive dentistry is often defined loosely by insurance companies, as many will pay for procedures like repairing or rebuilding broken or chipped teeth, but will not pay for cosmetic dentistry such as chemical or laser whitening.
The need for reconstructive dentistry is often the result of an accident or heredity, but is frequently the result of poor oral hygiene. It is often desired for aesthetic reasons, but can be medically necessary if the problem interferes with the normal functions of the mouth. Sometimes, chewing or speech is hindered as the result of an injury or hereditary issue affecting the mouth. Overcrowding, temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders, jaw injuries, and other medical problems may require reconstructive dentistry.
Reconstructive dentistry may involve the construction of new teeth with a composite material, repairing or rebuilding bridges, or creating implants where teeth are missing. Sometimes, it is necessary to support and prevent damage to teeth that are intact and properly functioning. Full mouth reconstruction is the most extreme example of this type of dentistry and is sometimes foregone for a set of dentures.
Before considering reconstructive dentistry, it is necessary to consult with a qualified dentist or oral surgeon who will take a brief medical history, examine your mouth, and discuss your options. Experts agree that more than one opinion should be sought before undergoing full-mouth reconstruction. Reconstructive procedures can be very expensive depending on the extent of work performed. Be sure to check with your insurance company to learn what they will and will not cover, and be sure the dentist you have selected has a billing staff well-versed in insurance policy. Many dentists are able to structure payment plans for patients with little or no insurance coverage, so make sure to ask your dentist about payment policies.