Reconstructive dentistry gives us the ability to restore damaged teeth to create an attractive and healthy smile. Depending on your cosmetic goals, we can restore your smile to its former appearance or we can give you an even more beautiful smile than you’ve ever enjoyed before. But no matter which you choose, your reconstructed smile will look so natural that few, if any, will guess that you’ve had work done. Your smile will look naturally beautiful. And it will function beautifully, too–it will feel like your natural teeth, and you’ll be able to use them just like natural teeth.
You don’t have to live with a smile damaged by decay, erosion, wear, or trauma. If you want to learn how your smile can be fixed by reconstructive dentistry in Westchester County, please call (914) 526-2144 today for an appointment with a cosmetic dentist at Advanced Dentistry of Mohegan Lake.
Making You Whole
Our guiding principle in reconstructive dentistry is that we want to make you whole again after your smile has been damaged. Whether the cause is dental decay, a bad bite, a traumatic accident, or other circumstances, the loss of a tooth or even your entire smile can be emotionally damaging, resulting in embarrassment, depression, or grief. Some people experience a disabling sense of loss. Your smile is a vital part of your identity, and losing it can be very damaging to your self-image.
Making you physically whole can be an essential part of your full recovery. You aren’t whole until your smile looks natural and functions comfortably. To achieve this result, we may recommend that we don’t just work on the teeth that are damaged, but on other teeth as well. We might recommend this for cosmetic reasons, so that all your teeth can look equally attractive. Or we might recommend it for functional reasons. If, for example, the teeth that are damaged by bite problems are not actually the cause of those bite problem, treating other teeth might be necessary to create a healthy bite.
We will make recommendations for a comprehensive treatment plan such as a smile makeover, but you are ultimately in charge of what work is done. We can propose a minimum treatment necessary to achieve or maintain oral health and function. We can also propose staged treatment that will help you achieve your final goal in a way that better fits your schedule, lifestyle, and budget. Staged treatment also lets you decide on future treatments based on the quality of your previous results.
Reconstructive Dentistry after Tooth Decay
Tooth decay starts as loss of minerals in the tooth enamel (demineralization), that then progresses to cavities (also called dental caries). When detected early, changes in diet, oral hygiene, and other habits can slow or even reverse demineralization, but once a cavity develops, reconstructive dentistry is used to cover the cavity and protect the tooth. We use two kinds of tooth-colored fillings for cavities. Resin composite fillings are economical, attractive, and convenient. Ceramic fillings are stronger, more durable, and look even more like your natural teeth. They are, however, more expensive and must be created in a dental lab, which requires a second visit to our office.
If cavities grow they can either penetrate or threaten to penetrate the inner chamber of the tooth that contains the living part of the tooth, called the pulp. An infected tooth is painful, and a serious threat to your oral health, and, sometimes, even your life. In these situations, root canal therapy is used to remove the infection and repair the tooth. A cosmetic ceramic dental crown protects the tooth and restores it to full function–it can continue to serve as an attractive part of your healthy smile for decades.
Erosion Damages Teeth Differently Than Decay
Tooth decay and erosion both cause damage to teeth through acid that attacks the dental enamel. But tooth decay is caused by oral bacteria that excretes acid onto the tooth in localized areas. It is possible to have one or two teeth seriously affected by decay, but the rest of your smile is healthy. Tooth erosion tends to affect all your teeth because the entire mouth is being filled with acid.
Common causes of tooth erosion include:
- Acidic foods and beverages
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
- Purging behaviors related to eating disorders like bulimia nervosa
Acidic foods and beverages are the most common cause of tooth erosion. This tends to erode teeth from the front of the mouth, causing highly visible damage around the front surfaces of the teeth most commonly displayed when smiling.
Erosion caused by GERD often manifests most in the rear teeth. It can cause severe erosion that will collapse the bite, and rear teeth may wear away or crack. It will attack the backs of the front teeth before it affects the visible surfaces, and the first signs of GERD-related erosion in the front teeth might be chipping or cracking due to undermining of teeth from behind.
Bulimia nervosa and other eating disorders that cause purging can expose teeth to stomach acids in very concentrated form. These exposures are intense, and although they attack the teeth largely from behind, they can visibly erode the teeth from the sides as well as the rear. Receding gums might also be visible.
Excessive Tooth Wear from a Bad Bite
One of the most common symptoms of TMJ and other forms of malocclusion disorders is tooth wear and damage to your teeth. You might notice clenching behavior or feel its effects, either as sore muscles or as teeth that are sore when you wake up in the morning or after a stressful day at work–or even a rough holiday visit with family. Or you might not notice the effects until they become visible on your teeth. The sooner we identify a bad bite, the more likely we can work with minimal or localized treatments.
Tooth wear related to a bad bite can occur gradually, and you won’t notice it until it’s progressed significantly and all your teeth look shorter than they used to. You might even notice signs of facial aging first, as your mouth can seem to fold in or sag down around your shrunken teeth, causing deep facial folds, sagging jowls, and turkey neck among other signs of premature aging. Reconstructive dentistry options typically include a full set of dental crowns that restores the teeth and also establishes a healthy bite. At an extreme case, we might be unable to save the teeth and might recommend replacement with All-on-4 implant dentures or New You neuromuscular dentures, which establish a healthy bite even as they replace your worn and damaged teeth. This can dramatically reduce aging related to tooth wear and loss.
You might notice craze lines first. These are vertical cracks in the enamel of your teeth, usually your front teeth. Although these cracks aren’t serious, they can look unattractive, especially because they have a tendency to accumulate stains. We can address craze lines with dental bonding or porcelain veneers. Or you might notice minor chipping in your teeth. Sometimes your first real hint of tooth strain can be a tooth that cracks when you clench your teeth or when you eat. Sometimes it’s enough to put dental crowns on damaged teeth,but we may recommend a bite splint to correct your bite.
A strange effect of tooth clenching is teeth that wear at the gum line. When you clench your teeth, the stress can cause your teeth to flex, but the dental enamel is rigid, and when the tooth flexes, the enamel flakes off where it’s thinnest, at the neck of the tooth near the gum line.
Trauma Can Destroy Your Smile
Our teeth are very sturdy, but there are many traumatic causes that can seriously damage or destroy them. Tooth trauma most often affects the front teeth. Slight trauma might cause minor chips and cracks that can be corrected with dental bonding or porcelain veneers.
Common causes of tooth trauma include:
- Sports accidents
- Car accidents
Car accidents typically cause the most serious damage to your smile, and most often require full reconstruction. Sports accidents are the most common cause of tooth trauma, and, thankfully, typically require the least reconstruction.
No matter the reason why your smile has been damaged, if you are looking for comprehensive, effective, and attractive reconstructive dentistry in Westchester County, please call (914) 526-2144 today for an appointment at Advanced Dentistry of Mohegan Lake.