Aug
2008

Full Mouth Rehabilitation Basics

Procedure Description:

Full Mouth Rehabilitation corrects imperfections in bite position and enhances the appearance of the smile. Anyone with short, worn teeth or those that are chipped and broken throughout the mouth would be an excellent candidate. Combining the science of Neuromuscular Dentistry with the artistry of Cosmetic Dentistry, Full Mouth Rehabilitation creates a smile that is functional, comfortable and beautiful.

Neuromuscular Dentistry measures and determines the optimal position of the jaw. Once determined, the jaw position is corrected with the use of an orthotic (a virtually invisible appliance that fits over the top of the lower teeth, gently repositioning the jaw) or the application of dental restorations, including porcelain veneers, crowns or onlays. As an added benefit, the restorations are exceptionally attractive and strong, enhancing the smile beautifully.

How It's Done:

Using advanced technology, the dentist measures the jaw's muscle function in both stressed and relaxed positions by running computerized scans.

If an imbalance is determined, the dentist will decide whether to treat with an orthotic appliance, or to fit the patient with dental restorations. The orthotic is a removable or fixed appliance that artificially builds up the patient's bite to a comfortable resting position. For patients that wish to eliminate the orthotic, full mouth restoration is often required.

After the orthotic has been worn for several weeks to several months, the jaw naturally drops into its most comfortable position. Only then can the doctor begin to restore the bite. He will use beautiful porcelain restorations that can raise or lower the bite to achieve the most comfortable jaw position. With this correction, patients experience decreased or eliminated pain and discomfort, and better overall health.

Keep in mind: To complete this process with the best possible result for your bite, it is best to work with a doctor who can prepare your entire mouth in one appointment. Some highly qualified doctors prefer to work on one arch at a time - uppers, then lowers. If your dentist prefers to work on one tooth at a time, or in quadrants (1/4 of the mouth), it will be extremely difficult to restore your bite to a comfortable position.

Technology:

Many doctors utilize the Tens, a low level electrical impulse machine that exercises the jaw muscles and releases the lactic acid buildup from muscle overuse in the wrong position. Then the Myotronics K7, or a similar bite measurement technology, measures the jaw's muscle function in both stressed and relaxed positions. A sonograph may also be used to listen to your jaw joints. X-rays, called tomographs, measure and reveal the jaw-to-skull ratio and aid in diagnosis.

To help in the aesthetic portion of this procedure, your dentist may also use digital imaging technology to show you what your new smile will look like.

Recovery/Post Op Expectations:

Patients who have their bite repositioned with the use of an orthotic will be under the dentists care for up to 1 year. The orthotic gently and slowly repositions the bite, creating a naturally comfortable position. The patient's progress will be monitored on a regular basis.

Patients who are then fitted with dental restorations can expect recovery to be about the same as any dental procedure. The gums may be tender for a couple days after restorations are placed on the teeth. Over the counter anti-inflammatory medications, such as ibuprofen, can ease any discomfort.

Complications:

Once a patient commits to the use of an orthotic, the results are not easy to reverse. After just a few weeks of constant wear, the bite will shift and the muscles will begin the get used to the new, more comfortable position. If the wearer decides not to complete treatment and follow through with the full mouth restoration, and they remove the orthotic, they will experience discomfort as the muscles move back to their previous position. All of the TMJ symptoms they experienced before the orthotic was placed will return.

Am I a Candidate?

If you answer yes to any of the following statements, you are a candidate for Full Mouth Reconstruction:

  • I have TMJ (temporomandibular joint syndrome)
  • I experience frequent headaches or migraines
  • I have unexplained loose teeth
  • My teeth are worn, chipped or cracked
  • My dental restorations frequently crack, chip or break
  • I have pain or soreness around my jaw joints
  • I have pain in my teeth that seems to move around
  • I have facial, neck, shoulder and/or back pain
  • There are clicking or grating sounds in my jaw joints
  • I experience limited jaw movement or have locking jaw
  • I have unexplained numbness in my fingers and arms
  • I have unexplained congestion or stuffiness in my ears
  • I have vertigo

Cost:

Full mouth rehabilitation is just that - a recreation of every tooth in the mouth. Only select doctors are truly qualified to complete this treatment, and as such, their fees will be in line with their skills.

In addition to the cost of restorations for each tooth, there will likely be a fee for the computerized muscle and jaw scans and orthotic, ranging from $1,500 to $4,000. The actual restorations typically range in cost from $800 to $1,500 per tooth, depending on the skills, education and location of the dentist.

Fortunately, most dentists offer third party financing options to make the work more affordable to your monthly budget. And once the work is complete, you wouldn't want it reversed for all the money in the world!

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