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Cosmetic Procedures

Is full-mouth reconstruction really necessary?

By Cosmetic Procedures No Comments

When I was a child I never had the privilege of seeing a dentist. Now that I’m 26 years old I’ve moved out and am on my own. I have a job and dental insurance. I also have horrible teeth. 4 of my teeth are missing and I have a few other teeth that are worn and chipped. I’m in treatment for periodontal disease that is really advanced. My current dentist recommends full mouth reconstruction. It should like a good idea, but I don’t know if it is really necessary. Even if it is a good idea, I don’t know how I could afford it. Do I really need full mouth reconstructions or are there other ways to give me a decent smile? – Bennett

Bennett – Full-mouth reconstruction is a huge project for the most skilled dentists. It requires skill, technical knowledge, and training that’s much more advanced that what is taught in dental school.

A dentist has to be trained in aesthetics and restorative dentistry to ensure your teeth are functional—individually and as a unit. Most dentists aren’t trained or qualified to provide it, but experienced prosthodontists and some cosmetic dentists have the training and experience required.

If you need full-mouth reconstruction and if you are considering it, cost should not be the primary consideration. This treatment requires meticulous planning, technique, and care. It is an expensive process.

Full-Mouth Reconstruction – Learn About Your Options

  • Find two to three board-certified prosthodontists or accredited cosmetic dentists and schedule consultations with me.
  • Check each dentist’s credentials in advance of your visit, and check patient reviews.
  • Take notes from each consultation you have and record the options and estimates you are given.
  • After each dentist explains your options, ask about the results you can expect with dental crowns, dental bridges, or dental implants. Carefully record the details you are given.
  • Ask each dentist what can be done to make treatment affordable for you. A dentist might offer payment plans or financing so you can pay for care over time.

Compare your options, as well as each dentist’s experience with cases like yours. It will help you make an informed decision.

This post is sponsored by Naperville dentist Dr. Anthony LaVacca.


My teeth are too small and only my gums show when I smile

By Cosmetic Procedures

My teeth are too small. My smile is basically 75% gums and 25% teeth. When I was I school, kids called me Gumby. Now some cruel adults make jokes about it when we are kidding around. I don’t joke about anyone’s personal appearance so I am not sure why they go there. I am 36 years old so this is not an issue of growing into my smile. My teeth are just plain too small. I do not want anything artificial like porcelain veneers placed on my teeth. I am just wondering what other options are to help me smile freely and not hold back because people are looking at my gums. Thanks. Melina

Melina – When more gums than teeth show when you smile, it’s usually due to excess gum tissue, as opposed to your teeth being abnormally small. A prosthodontist who is skilled in cosmetic dentistry will examine your teeth and let you know your options.

If you don’t want porcelain veneers, there are other options.

  • Gingivectomy – This procedure is performed after numbing your gum tissue. Either a laser or dental scalpel is used to remove the excess gum tissue and lengthen the appearance of your teeth. The procedure is completed in the dentist office and is usually completed in one visit. It is also referred to as gum contouring or a gum lift.
  • Crown lengthening – This procedure involves the removal and reshaping of excess gum, as well as bone tissue. It exposes more of your teeth so that they appear longer.
  • Composite bonding – Dental composite is mixed to match the color of your natural teeth. It is applied to your teeth, and then shaped and polished to lengthen your teeth.

Regardless of which treatment you receive, if you find an expert cosmetic dentist or prosthodontist to do the work, the results will be seamless. Other than noticing an improvement in your smile, people won’t be able to see the difference between the dental treatment and your natural teeth.

We suggest that you schedule one or two consultations with experienced dentists to discuss your options. Ask to see patient photos of cases similar to yours that were completed by each dentist. This will help you choose the right provider.

This post is sponsored by Naperville board-certified prosthodontist Dr. Anthony LaVacca


Should a Cosmetic Dentist Replace My Crowns?

By Cosmetic Procedures, Dental Crowns, Prosthodontist

Can you help me determine whether I should see a prosthodontist or a cosmetic dentist? In 2005, I went to the DR and got 6 new crowns. I didn’t like the way my teeth looked and I had visited several dentists in IL and couldn’t part with the money they were asking for. Since I got the crowns not a year has passed that I didn’t have problems with them. I am certain my bite is off. My neck hurts all of the time and I get toothaches almost constantly. I can’t floss between the crowns and I am beginning to wonder if there is an infection. I have been dentist hopping in nearby towns because I am always told that I need to replace the crowns. I didn’t think crown replacement was the problem but now I know it must be done. I recently saw a dentist who did digital x-rays and displayed them on a monitor in front of me while I was in the dental chair. I could see the mess my teeth are in. Now the dentist I saw has good technology in his office but I don’t trust him with the crowns. He does CEREC and I don’t want CEREC. I almost feel like he is being a little pushy, maybe to pay off the high price of the technology he probably went into debt for. I’m going to see a dentist who knows a lot about crowns. I’m not sure if a prosthodontist or a cosmetic dentist is the right way to go. Or does it matter? Thanks. Klaude


It’s good that you’re seeking options to restore your teeth. The longer your faulty crowns are left in place, the more you put your oral health at risk. Your experience is a reminder of how risky it is to get dental care outside of the U.S. When there is a problem with the dental work, return trips can become expensive and frustrating.

Your issue is related to the function and appearance of your crowns. A prosthodontist is a specialist in tooth restoration and proper bite. A cosmetic dentist is an artist who will produce a beautiful smile.

The issue with your bite requires a dentist who can address the esthetics and the function of your crowns, and a prosthodontist is efficient at both. Here’s what we suggest:

  • Look for a skilled prosthodontist with extensive training in cosmetic dentistry.
  • Ask to see before-and-after photos of patient cases similar to yours.
  • Check patient reviews and ask friends or family members if they are familiar with the prosthodontist you choose.
  • Schedule a consultation with two or three prosthodontists, and compare your options, as well as the fees, before you move forward.

This post is sponsored by Naperville American board-certified prosthodontist Dr. Anthony LaVacca.

My crown doesn’t match my teeth

By Cosmetic Procedures, General Dentistry, Porcelain Crown, Prosthodontist

My crown broke about 3 weeks ago and I had to get it fixed quickly before I went on vacation. I knew it was loose, but I didn’t expect it to break. My choice was a dentist who did CEREC in his office but also who was an emergency dentist. It worked and off I went! I was so busy that I really haven’t time to really look closely at the crown until this week. It is an incisor on the right side of my mouth and it doesn’t match my other teeth. If it was a molar I would let this pass but I really want the crown color changed. This isn’t my regular dentist and he really did me a huge favor. Should I go back to that dentist to get the color corrected? Thank you. COlton

Colton – Your selection of an emergency dentist who could also make a one-visit crown is understandable.

In-office crowns require the dentist to receive training in crown creation and placement, but it doesn’t require the dentist to be an artist. An artistic prosthodontist has training cosmetic dentistry. He or she has a keenly interested in providing crowns that function well and look completely natural—blending with your natural teeth.

Crowns are colorfast. They cannot be made darker or lighter. Unfortunately, the only way to receive a lighter crown is for a new one to be made. Contact the office of the dentist you saw and explain your concern. Request an appointment for an examination. Express your appreciation for the dentist’s help during your emergency and explain your concerns.

Along with any insurance you may have, you paid for a dental crown. It is reasonable for you to request and receive a crown that matches your natural teeth. A well-made crown lasts ten to twenty years. If your crown was made well, consider whether or not you can adjust to it lasting for many years that doesn’t match your natural teeth.

You can decide if you want to give the emergency dentist another chance, or if you prefer to visit an artistic prosthodontist dentist to receive a new crown. Before you proceed, be certain to speak with your dental insurance company about the issue and ask if your plan will provide any benefits toward a replacement crown if you choose a new dentist to replace it.

This post is sponsored by Naperville dentist Dr. Anthony LaVacca.


What are my options until I can afford dental implants?

By Affordable Dental Implants, Cosmetic Procedures

I had a 2nd root canals on 2 different teeth on the same day. I think my dentist didn’t know what she was doing so she messed up both teeth and make them weak. 3 weeks after the root canals my teeth, face and eyes started hurting horribly. I was sick to my stomach. I had to go back to the dentist’s office and as soon as she started working on the first tooth, she said it cracked. I asked her to stop working on my teeth and I left the office. My wife made some calls for me and I immediately went to an endodontist who had to extract both teeth and is recommending dental implants. I have 2 missing teeth and certainly was not planning on spending thousands of dollars on dental implants. I am wondering what my options are until I can afford dental implants, because I kind of felt like the endo was just pushing implants. Thanks Gerard.

Gerard – An endodontist specializes in tooth replacement with dental implants, and dental implants are the most effective means of replacing missing teeth. So naturally, the specialist would recommend the healthiest and most effective option for replacing your teeth.

A dental bridge can replace the white portion, or biting surface, of your missing teeth, but since it won’t replace the tooth roots, your jawbone will begin to shrink where teeth are missing.

It is possible that your dental implant placement can be done in two phases. One tooth can be replaced, and after you pay for that implant, work can start on the second implant. The phased treatment can make the implants more affordable.

Another alternative is to consider no-interest financing based on your budget. This allows you to receive both implants with scheduled payments.

Speak with the financial representative at the specialist’s office to learn more about your options. Also, as with any surgery, it’s good to seek a second opinion from another specialist—a prosthodontist or an endodontist—to discuss your options.

Of course, the final choice is yours, and if you definitely not interested in implants at this time, be sure to find an artistic cosmetic dentist or prosthodontist who can provide you with a natural-looking dental bridge.

This post is sponsored by Naperville board-certified prosthodontist Dr. Anthony LaVacca.

The tooth beneath my crown hurts

By Cosmetic Procedures, Dental Crowns

I got a root canal and crown in June. I thought everything seemed to be okay even though every once in a while I would feel a little pain in the tooth. It felt much better than before the root canal and it only hear once or twice a month so I didn’t think it was a big deal. Now it is a big deal because the pain is getting worse. Am I going to need a new crown? Lily

Lily – Your tooth needs to be examined to determine the correct treatment for it. There are several possible causes of your pain.

  • A main nerve still exists in the tooth. An irritated nerve that remains after root canal treatment can cause pain. A second root canal will be needed to clean the tooth and re-seal it.
  • The crown doesn’t fit correctly. A poorly fitting crown can put pressure on your natural tooth and cause pain. The crown will need to be removed, further preparation of the natural tooth may be required, and the crown will need to be bonded back on.
  • The tooth is damaged. At times, a tooth beneath the crown becomes damaged or cracked—often due to a poor-fitting crown. If the damage is not to extensive, the tooth will need to be cleaned out and sealed with a dental filler material. A tooth that is cracked below the gumline will need to be extracted. Have your tooth and crown examined to find out the cause of your pain and your treatment options.


This post is sponsored by Naperville dentist Dr. Anthony LaVacca




What is the cost per tooth for cosmetic dentistry?

By Cosmetic Procedures

What is the cost per tooth for cosmetic dentistry? And did you get a loan to have your teeth done? – Max

Max – The cost of cosmetic dentistry depends on what type of treatment you need. Small chips or gaps in your teeth can be fixed with dental bonding.

Major flaws or teeth that are misaligned can be restored with porcelain veneers. Broken down or damaged teeth can be protected with porcelain crowns.

Your submission to us didn’t identify the problem with your teeth, but you should have them examined by a cosmetic dentist. He or she will let you know your treatment options.

Many cosmetic dentists accept various forms of payment, and offer payment plans or financing.

This post is sponsored by Naperville dentist and board-certified prosthodontist Dr. Anthony LaVacca.

How can I treat damage from bulimia ?

By Cosmetic Procedures

I suffered from bulimia for almost ten years. Through counseling and treatment, I finally overcame the illness, but my teeth have been damaged severely. They are half of their original size, and in the front they no longer touch. Also, where my teeth do still touch, they don’t fit well.

And now, the left side of my jaw sticks out nearly an inch every time I open my mouth to bite or chew, which causes headaches.

Is there any hope for me and these issues with my teeth ? I’d like to see a cosmetic dentist to improve my smile and the functionality of my bite.
– Mary in Pittsburgh

It’s a wise decision to think of a cosmetic dentist to help you with these problems. Bulimia is an appearance issue as far as your teeth are concerned. When there is little tooth structure left, you need to have bonding technology used to restore your smile because conventional cementation techniques may not be strong enough to hold crowns on your teeth.

And yes, your headaches are most likely caused by a TMJ disorder, which comes from your bite discrepancy. One other piece of good news is that most expert cosmetic dentists are also fairly well trained in treating TMJ disorders, which requires restoring your bite to it’s normal state. Brace yourself – you are probably facing the need for porcelain crowns on most if not all of your teeth. But the end result, if you go to the right dentist, will be a beautiful, radiant smile.

Congratulations on overcoming your disease! You have made great strides. The worst is behind you, and I anticipate things will just get better for you from this point on.
– Dr. Lavacca

What’s the best way to whiten my teeth if I have composite fillings?

By Cosmetic Procedures

Over the years my teeth have naturally turned yellow. I would really like to whiten them, but I’m not sure how I should go about this since I have several composite fillings. Should I have the composite fillings replaced with a lighter material before or after I whiten my teeth?

 – Dana from Texas


Everyone’s teeth have a natural tendency to darken over time, which can be a result of certain foods, beverages, or many other known causes. As you begin the teeth whitening process, be sure to whiten your teeth first, because it is impossible to predict the shade of whiteness your teeth will become. Once you are satisfied with your teeth’s level of color, you should then wait another two weeks for the new shade to stabilize. Then you can move forward with having your composite fillings removed to match your newly whitened teeth.

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