Affordable Full-Mouth Reconstruction?

I never got to go to the dentist as a child. As a young adult, I couldn’t afford it. Now that I’m in my thirties, I decided to bite the bullet. I wasn’t surprised to be told I needed a lot of work. The dentist said he usually recommends a full-mouth reconstruction. He explained what it was, but the price was well out of my ability. It sounds like something that would really help me though. Is there some way to get an affordable full-mouth reconstruction?


Dear Elaine,

A smiling blonde with a beautiful smile

Even if you had the money for a full-mouth reconstruction, I’d recommend you get a second opinion. There may be a better way to repair your smile without crowning every tooth. That alone will give you more affordable dental care.

Go to another dentist and ask him to first list out all the work your mouth needs. It’s very likely you have teeth which don’t need work. You didn’t mention having any pain, so it doesn’t sound like you’re losing any teeth and need something like dental implants.

If it turns out you do need a full-mouth reconstruction, you need to verify the training and credentials your dentist has. This is a serious procedure which is well beyond what a dentist learns in dental school. It requires an advanced knowledge of both aesthetics and reconstructive dentistry. If they don’t get the aesthetics right, your smile will look horrible. If they don’t get the reconstructive done properly, you’ll end up in pain for the rest of your life from a misplaced bite.

How to Afford Dental Care When You Need a Lot of Work

It’s hard when you haven’t been able to go to the dentist because of the amount of work you end up needing. It sounds like you’ve been fortunate and haven’t needed any emergency dental care. As I mentioned earlier, you want to preserve as much natural tooth structure as possible.

When he lists out the work you need, have him list it from most urgent to least. A good dentist will also give you all your alternatives. So if you need a tooth replaced, which I hope you don’t, and the teeth on either side of it need crowns, it would make more sense to get a dental bridge instead of a dental implant. It’s like getting three procedures in one.

The reason for the list is to allow you to separate out your treatment into affordable bites. Make sure he tells you about any procedures you can double up on to save money.

This blog is brought to you by Dr. Kevin Peck.

What Kind of Dentist Does Teeth Whitening?

I keep hearing you need a cosmetic dentist for that type of work. Does that include teeth whitening? I have a family dentist and he says he does whitening. Is it safe to use him?


Dear Bruce,

A woman and her dentist smiling
Do You Need a Cosmetic Dentist for Teeth Whitening?

First, I want to make sure you know there isn’t a recognized specialty in cosmetic dentistry by the American Dental Association. Dentists who call themselves cosmetic dentists, are really just general dentists who do cosmetic procedures in their practice in addition to their general dentistry.

That being said, some dentists have invested much more time and energy in developing expertise in the field of cosmetics. So, for some procedures, like porcelain veneers, you will want a dentist who’s invested in training and has experience placing them. Also look at their smile gallery to see if you like the type of results they get.

Does Teeth Whitening Require a Cosmetic Dentist?

Teeth Whitening is a completely different story. Any general dentist can do it. It doesn’t take artistry, but rather general dental skills. When it comes to whitening your teeth, the role of the dentist is to provide custom fit trays for you to use the whitening gel, as well as monitor the patient’s oral health during the process.

There are always things which can go wrong, such as gum sensitivity, issues with decay, etc. That’s where his skills as a dentist, much more than a cosmetic dentist, are what you need.

I hope this helps answer your question. Most patients love teeth whitening and the results they get from it. One word or warning. If you have dental work, such as fillings or porcelain crowns, the whitening gel only works on natural tooth structure. That doesn’t mean you still can’t get your teeth whitened. It just means that (if they’re in a visible part of your smile) you’ll want to replace them after your whitening procedure so your smile will match.

This blog is brought to you by Drs. Kevin and Hillary Peck.