Reconstructive Dentistry in Fort Atkinson, WI

Dr. Stafford explains how to benefit most from this procedure.

Man smiling

When to Get Reconstructive Dentistry

Reconstructive dentistry can help manage some symptoms of temporomandibular joint disordersThis link leads to TMJ Disorders page (TMJ/TMD). Depending on a dentist’s approach, this might be used to reposition the jaw, or it might be used primarily to repair teeth damaged as a result of TMJ.

At Bite Align, Dr. Jennifer StaffordThis link leads to Doctor page recommends this for repairing damaged teeth. She doesn’t use it to reposition the jaw joint, which can be done more effectively with an oral appliance.

Two Approaches to Reconstructive Dentistry in TMJ

There are two main approaches to reconstructive dentistry in TMJ. In the first approach, some dentists see reconstructive dentistry as the end goal of all TMJ treatment. The hope is to reposition, repair, and build up teeth so that they can hold the jaw in a balanced, relaxed position. When successful, this could achieve the results of the oral splint without the need for one. 

There are three main drawbacks to this approach:

  • It’s expensive

  • It’s irreversible

  • It has a mixed success rate

Using restorative dentistry to completely rebuild your bite can be very expensive since you need to get crowns placed on almost all teeth, including those that haven’t been damaged. In the process, a dentist makes irreversible changes to your teeth, including the loss of enamel that your body can’t repair or grow back. This might be justified if it could guarantee long-term relief from TMJ symptoms, but it doesn’t always work. Many people end up getting expensive dentistry and still rely on their splint and other treatments for relief. 

That’s why Dr. Stafford generally favors the second approach: repair teeth that need to be fixed but leave healthy teeth alone.

Woman smiling in a dentist's chair
A picture of woman smiling

Reconstructive Dentistry Might Be Necessary

Although Dr. Stafford doesn’t always recommend reconstructive dentistry, there are definitely some cases where it might be necessary. Usually, this is because of tooth damage sustained because of clenching and grinding. Sometimes, though, TMJ develops after an accident, which might also have caused tooth damage. 

We recommend reconstructive dentistry when:

  • Teeth cause you pain

  • Damaged teeth are vulnerable to future damage

  • Your bite function is compromised

  • Damaged teeth make you self-conscious

In these cases, we will recommend restorative dentistry that addresses any specific problems. We will alleviate pain, protect vulnerable teeth, restore bite function, and beautify your damaged smile. Our goal is to help you live your best life, both physically and emotionally.

Don’t Get Reconstructive Dentistry without TMJ Evaluation

We also want to put out a caution for people considering reconstructive dentistry who haven’t been evaluated for TMJ and other bite problems. If you have experienced chipped, cracked, or worn teeth, you should have your bite evaluated before you get restorations (like crowns or veneers) placed on your teeth. 

Otherwise, the same forces that damaged your teeth are likely to damage your restorations. While modern dental materials are stronger than tooth enamel, they are still vulnerable to excessive bite forces. 

A bite evaluation will help ensure your results will last.

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"TMJ Specialist" is not officially recognized by the American Dental Association. Dr. Stafford is a general dentist with many years of training in TMJ and neuromuscular dentistry, even though the specialty is not officially recognized. However, Wisconsin requires the following statement. "Cosmetic dentistry, TMJ, Neuromuscular dentistry, and Aesthetic dentistry are specialty areas not recognized by the ADA that requires no specific educational training to advertise this service".