Reconstructive dentistry refers to the branch of medicine that focuses on repairing or replacing damaged teeth. A person may require reconstructive dentistry if they experience cavities, damaged teeth, or missing teeth.

Dentistry is a branch of medicine and healthcare that focuses on the teeth, the gums, and surrounding tissue in and around the mouth.

Reconstructive dentistry, also sometimes known as restorative dentistry, is dentistry that targets the repair or replacement of damaged teeth. The aim of this type of dentistry is to restore oral function and improve oral health.

In this article, we will explore when a person may require reconstructive dentistry, the types of reconstructive dentistry procedures available, and the recovery process.

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Reconstructive dentistry is a branch of dentistry that focuses on repairing and replacing damaged or missing teeth. This dentistry may also involve the replacement of other tissue in the mouth.

It may restore the function of the teeth and improve their appearance.

There are different oral conditions that may result in a person requiring reconstructive dentistry. Some of these conditions include:

  • Dental cavities: A cavity, or tooth decay, may occur due to the gradual destruction of the outer, hard layer of the tooth, known as the enamel. In some cases, this can also affect the deeper layer of teeth too.
  • Tooth fracture: A person may require reconstructive dentistry after breaking a tooth or teeth. This commonly occurs due to sporting activities, accidents, and physical injury.
  • Missing teeth: A person can experience partial or total tooth loss that may require replacement.

Different types of restorative dentistry include:

Dental fillings

A dentist may use a filling to treat a cavity or a small hole in the teeth. If a person requires a filling for a cavity, a dentist will first remove the decayed tissue in the teeth and then fill the space with a filling.

Different types of filling materials are available and include tooth-colored fillings and silver-colored fillings. Normally, dental fillings do not last the entirety of a person’s life and may require replacement.

Dental crowns

A dentist may use a dental crown to cover a tooth, similar to a cap. Dental crowns help restore the shape and size of teeth and may improve their strength and appearance.

A person may require a dental crown if they have a large filling in a tooth and there is not enough tooth tissue left to hold the filling.

Inlays and onlays

Dental inlays are similar to fillings, and a dentist may use them to replace a small amount of lost tooth structure. Dental onlays fit inside the tooth structure but also extend out to the surface of the tooth.

According to the American College of Prosthodontists, dentists may use a variety of dental inlays and onlays made of different materials, including gold, ceramic, and porcelain material. Inlays and onlays normally last for many years, but they are also expensive.

Root canal therapy

If a person’s teeth have severe damage or decay, they may require a root canal treatment. A dentist can recommend a root canal to prevent needing to remove a tooth.

A person may need a root canal when there is an infection in the pulp inside a tooth. The pulp is the soft tissue inside the tooth, and it contains blood vessels and nerves.

An infection of the pulp can result in the surrounding tooth tissue experiencing inflammation. This can cause swelling and pain and increases the risk of tooth removal.

A root canal treatment normally involves the removal of the nerve inside the tooth and in the root areas (the root canal). The dentist will then normally clean the root canal. A dentist may also use medicine that kills bacteria if there is the possibility of re-infection.

The dentist will then fill the root canal with a rubber-like material that seals the root canal. The dentist will place a temporary filling to protect the tooth until they can fit a permanent filling or crown.

Dental implants

Dental implants are a treatment option for missing teeth. A dentist will place the implant in the jawbone.

Dental implants provide a structure for replacement teeth to hold on to and help improve support and retention of the replacement teeth. Dental implants have a 97% success rate for 10 years and also have a decreased risk of dental decay.

Dental bridge

A dental bridge, also known as a fixed partial denture, is a procedure that a dentist may use to replace missing teeth. Effectively, a dentist will insert replacement teeth in the gap between the missing teeth to “bridge” the gap.

Different types of dental bridges are available, and the option a dentist uses will depend on a number of factors, including the person’s oral health and the number of missing teeth. Types of dental bridges include:

  • removable bridges
  • implant bridges
  • fixed bridges

Recovery from reconstructive dentistry is dependent on a number of factors, including the type of procedure and the number of teeth that underwent repair or replacement.

For example, according to one 2021 study, a person who has undergone a dental implant placement can expect to recover within 4 days.

The cost of dental reconstruction will depend on the type of procedure that a person requires. The cost of each procedure can also vary depending on the dental practice a person attends for a procedure, as well as whether their dental insurance covers a specific type of procedure.

For example, according to the American Dental Association (ADA), the cost of a single tooth replacement can range from $3,000–$4,500. The ADA also notes that insurance policies often do not cover the full cost of dental implants.

A person should speak to their insurance provider to determine whether their policy will partially or fully cover a dental procedure. They should also speak with their dental practice to ensure that it will accept their form of insurance.

A person should contact a dentist if they experience signs or symptoms such as:

  • a broken tooth
  • missing teeth or tooth loss
  • bleeding gums
  • pain when chewing
  • stained teeth
  • tender or sore gums

Reconstructive dentistry is a branch of dentistry that focuses on the replacement and repair of broken, missing, or damaged teeth.

Reconstructive procedures include fillings, crowns, inlays, root canal therapy, and dental bridges. The recovery time and cost of each procedure will vary and depend on other factors, including the number of teeth that underwent the procedure.

A person should seek the advice of a dentist if they experience pain or bleeding in the mouth or direct injury or loss of teeth.