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Dental Implants

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Are Dental Implants Safe?

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Dental implants are an increasingly popular way to replace missing teeth and for good reason. They’re permanent, stable and look and function just like your natural teeth. There isn’t a better way to restore your smile. But are dental implants safe? Well, as with any procedure, there are risks involved with dental implant surgery and these risks can lead to implant failure. That is why it’s essential to see an experienced doctor like our Naperville prosthodontist Dr. Anthony LaVacca. When you work with a skilled dental implant specialist, dental implants are safe and the benefits far outweigh the risks. Here’s what you need to know about dental implant safety and the steps we take at Naperville Dental Specialists to ensure the procedure is a success.
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Couple smiling after dental care

Missing Teeth? Your Guide to the Different Types of Dental Implants

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Dental implants are an extraordinary advance in dentistry and give patients a permanent, comfortable, attractive solution to missing teeth. Because dental implants integrate into the jawbone, they function just like regular teeth. Dentures can slip out of place and are often uncomfortable and a dental bridge involves altering adjacent healthy teeth, making implants a much better option. Our Naperville prosthodontist Dr. Anthony LaVacca has expertise in a variety of different types of dental implants, as well as techniques, in order to accommodate patients’ needs, goals and budget. Here are some of the choices you’ll find at Naperville Dental Specialists:

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How to Treat and Prevent Swelling Around Dental Implants

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How should swelling around dental implants be effectively treated and prevented? Both you and your dentist have a role.

What your dentist will do

  • Examine the dental implant – Your dentist will check your implant for damage and position. Your jawbone can detach from a defective implant, and it is unlikely that it will reattach. The implant will need to be removed, the affected area will need to heal, and a new implant will be placed.
  • Identify the cause of infection – Swelling is a sign of infection. Your dentist will look for trapped debris between your gums and the implant because it can cause irritation and swelling. Other possible causes of swelling include periodontal (gum disease), certain medical conditions, and smoking.
  • Treat the swelling – The affected area will be cleaned and disinfected. Swelling is your body’s response to an infection in your oral tissue. Your dentist will determine if the infection should be treated with antibiotics.

What you can do for preventive care

Diagram of a dental implant, for information on magnetic dentures from Naperville prosthodontist Dr. Anthony LaVacca.

Dental implants fuse with the bone and crowns or dentures are placed on them

At-home care, nutrition, and lifestyle can affect the health of your implants and gum tissue. Practice good oral hygiene with the following steps:

  • Limit or avoid food that can lodge between your gums and the implant, including popcorn, chips, nuts, and shells. If you occasionally eat these foods, try to avoid chewing hear the implant.
  • Thoroughly floss around your dental implants. It will remove trapped food and bacteria-causing debris.
  • Avoid smoking because it irritates oral tissue and restricts blood flow.
  • Schedule regular dental cleanings and exams. Your hygienist and dentist can detect issues with your oral tissue and dental implants. Early detection can help you get the treatment you need and prevent issues that lead to swelling around your implants.

An infection can weaken your gums and bone and affect the support of your dental implants. If you have swelling around an implant, don’t delay scheduling an appointment for an exam.

This post is sponsored by award-winning Naperville implant dentist Dr. LaVacca.


How Can I Be Sure Dental Implants are Safe? – Mansueto Scandal

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I’ve been following a story in the news and am worried about the safety of some dental implants. The story involves a dentist from San Diego who just got four years in jail for doing the work incorrectly and injuring a woman. It seems like every time I watch the news, there’s new information to be worried about. I don’t know if I will go forward with treatment, but I have to wonder, how is it possible for an average person to know that their dental implants will be safe?



Dear Joseph,

It sounds like you’re referencing the Robert Mansueto case. Indeed, this is a heartbreaking case. While a victim of a crime suffers, there were some major red flags that should have been observed.

  • The first red flag here is that the “dentist” in question was meeting patients at his house. That’s certainly not a sign of professionalism. Patients should meet their dentist at the office—not at his or her home.
  • The biggest red flag, however, was that the “dentist” convinced people to leave the country with him. Mansueto drove at least one woman across the border into Tijuana to perform the surgery. Every reputable dental agency in the United States cautions against leaving the country. There is never a good reason for doing so, and it’s unthinkable that any professional would consider incorporating this into the patient’s treatment plan.

How to Stay Safe with Dental Implants

  • Check Credentials. The man involved in this story was not a licensed dentist. Although he was formerly a dentist, he lost his license a decade ago. There’s actually a great online tool to check licensure, and it even notes if the professional has been disciplined. Many states also have their own lists.
  • Choose a Specialist: Although many dentists are legally able to provide patients with dental implants, a prosthodontist has extensive training and generally has more experience than others. This has a significant impact on the overall success of the procedure.
  • See Examples: Find out if the dentist has a smile gallery or other ways to view examples of his work. Don’t accept stock photos that are routinely used for educational purposes. You need to be able to see what the dentist has actually accomplished.
  • Watch for Red Flags: You shouldn’t meet anyone claiming to be a doctor or dentist at his home. You should only get treatment in a dental office. Ideally, with a procedure as sensitive as dental implants, you’ll want a local dentist whom you can visit with ease in case complications arise.


This blog is sponsored by Naperville dental implants provider Dr. Anthony LaVacca.

Is it too late for dental implants to help my sagging face?

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I’m wondering if it’s too late for dental implants to help my facial sagging. I’ve had dentures since I was 49 years old and I just turned 61 last week. The bags on my face from dentures are finally catching up with me. Other than cosmetic surgery, what are some ways that people with dentures can at least soften their wrinkles? Is it too late for dental implants?

Madge – After years of wearing dentures, facial sagging results from jawbone shrinkage. When all of your teeth are missing, the bone that once supported the teeth is resorbed and used elsewhere in the body. The jawbone is no longer available to support facial muscles, so sagging and shrinking result. Although cosmetic surgery may tighten facial tissue, jawbone shrinkage can continue and additional wrinkles or sagging can occur. Dental implants can help.

How Dental Implants Can Help with Facial Sagging

Bone grafting – If you don’t have enough jawbone density to support your facial muscles, you probably lack the density to support dental implants. But it’s not too late for dental implants. The good news is that jawbone can be built up through bone grafting. After the grafts heal, dental implants can be placed, and jawbone shrinkage can be prevented or interrupted.

Support for your dentures and facial muscles – Your dentures will be attached to the dental implants. Your facial muscles will have support, and the process will rejuvenate your face and help you look longer.

Healthier than cosmetic surgery – Dental implants stimulate jawbone growth. Cosmetic surgery doesn’t. When all of your teeth are missing, dental implants and bone grafting support your oral health, while cosmetic surgery only lifts your facial muscles and improves your facial appearance. Without dental implants, your bone will continue to shrink, and additional cosmetic treatment might be needed in the future.

Before you receive any treatment, diagnostic studies are needed to determine how much jawbone shrinkage has occurred and the best way to address it. The process will take several months, but you’ll have better oral health, and it will enhance your facial appearance.

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

My dental implant dentures make me look and feel old

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I’ve had dental implants since 2004. The current dentures on them make me feel old. They look old, even though I’ve only had them for about 18 months. I am tired of explaining what I want to my dentist. I couldn’t believe it when he put his hand on mine and told me to remember how lucky I am because some people can’t afford to secure their dentures with dental implants so they have to go about life with loose dentures or no teeth at all. I am insulted. This is a dentist that I’ve seen since childhood. I think it’s time to move on. I know I’m fortunate, but I don’t have an endless supply of money to keep getting new dentures because he can’t make them look youthful. There has to be something better than dentures that age me by at least 10 years. What do you suggest? Am I going to need new dentures? Judith


Judith – It is not unusual to receive dentures for their dental implants that look like, as many people call them, “false teeth.” Your experience is unfortunate, but not unique.

Your dentist’s response likely means that he has done his best in providing you with dentures for your dental implants. But you have the option of finding a prosthodontist, who specializes in dental implants and cosmetic dentures.

How to Get High-Quality Dental Implants and Dentures

  • You can find a prosthodontist with the training and artistic talent to personalize your dentures and make them look like they belong to you—not to someone else. Nor will they look like a generic set of dentures.
  • He or she will listen to your like and dislikes and take into consideration your facial features so you’ll have cosmetic dentures that compliment your smile.
  • Unfortunately, unless your current dentist has the talent to produce lifelike dentures, you probably need new ones. A prosthodontist will let you know your options for dentures that you will love.

Schedule a Consultation

Dental implants can last a lifetime. You should have natural-looking dentures that fit well. It affects your quality of life. We suggest that you schedule two or three consultations with prosthodontists—preferably those who are board certified. It will increase the chances of getting a smile that you love.


This post is sponsored by American Board certified prosthodontist and award-winning Naperville implant dentist Dr. Anthony LaVacca.


Dental implants are darker after Zoom whitening

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I’ve had dental implants for 3 years. In January, I got Zoom whitening. The dentist I’m seeing now isn’t the same dentist who did the implant crowns. Anyway, it took a total of 3 whitening sessions to get my teeth as white as I want them. After the first session, I was immediately worried that my own teeth were lighter than the implant crowns. The dentist told me that it takes time for the color to stabilize and I shouldn’t worry. 2 months later and the implant crowns are still noticeably darker. All 3 implants are on the top left of my mouth, immediately to the left of my center teeth. So I’m concerned about how this looks. My dentist has no explanation now. She just tells me that it’s not so noticeable. I have honest close friends who have told me that the color difference is noticeable. Am I stuck with this, or is there some way to darken my teeth or will I have to get new implant crowns? Kamila

Kamila – Zoom whitening and the acceleration light provide quick penetration of bleaching gel into your teeth. This makes the whitening process faster than take-home whitening. Your super white teeth might darken a little with time, but that will take considerable time. Teeth bleaching gel lightens the natural pigmentation of your teeth. It is unlikely that your teeth will ever darken enough to match your dental implant crowns.

Matching Dental Implant Crowns to Bleached Teeth

Ideally, teeth whitening should be completed before you receive dental implants. Crowns are colorfast, so they cannot be darkened or lightened. Your dentist should have explained to you that your implant crowns wouldn’t match your teeth after Zoom whitening. Receiving whitening first ensures implant crowns are made to match your newly whitened natural teeth. Unfortunately, the solution for you is to get new crowns to match your natural teeth. An experienced prosthodontist can perfectly match the color so no one can distinguish your new crowns from your natural teeth.

Before you choose a prosthodontist, check his or her website to learn more about the following:

  • Level of experience
  • Training
  • Credentials
  • Smile gallery before-and-after photos of actual patients at the practice

Although replacing the implant crowns will cost you more money, you’ll have the satisfaction of a smile that you’re comfortable with and really love.

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

Dental implants or Invisalign first?

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I would like your help in deciding whether I should get dental implants or Invisalign first. I have 3 upper teeth missing (left side) and 2 lower teeth missing (left side). The teeth have been out for probably 7 to 9 years, so my upper and lower teeth have shifted pretty bad. I want to replace the teeth, but I also want to straighten out my teeth so my smile looks good. I’ve done some online research for Invisalign and dental implants. I have a budget and I don’t want to get them both at the same time. Is there a priority of what is healthiest for my smile? Does it matter whether I get dental implants or Invisalign first? Thx. Owen

Owen – Here are a few facts about dental implants and Invisalign. They will help you understand the priority for your smile.


  • Invisible braces that people won’t notice
  • Move your teeth with precision
  • Treatment time is half that of traditional braces
  • Removable so you can eat, brush, and floss well
  • More comfortable than metal braces
  • Requires wearing a retainer full time for a year after treatment, then nightly for life

Dental Implants

  • Usually made of titanium
  • Surgically implanted in your jawbone
  • Require bone grafting if you don’t have enough jawbone density
  • Require a three to six month healing period so the implants fuse with your jawbone
  • Feel and function like natural teeth
  • Permanently in place, and don’t contain ligaments like natural teeth to allow them to be repositioned during orthodontic treatment

Get Dental Implants After Invisalign

Usually, it makes more sense to complete orthodontic treatment before you receive dental implants. Here’s why:

  • Dental implants are rigid.
  • As your teeth shift, the implants can damage them because Invisalign is unable to move the dental implants along with your teeth.
  • In some cases, orthodontic treatment is needed to ensure there is enough room for the implants.

Schedule an appointment with a prosthodontist and an orthodontist to discuss your goals for your oral health. They will work together to ensure you get quality tooth replacement and alignment.

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


Is the diamond in Drake’s tooth a dental implant?

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Is the diamond in Drake’s tooth a dental implant? I recently read he has a pink diamond in one tooth. Or is it possible to insert a diamond in a natural tooth? It looks cool, but I’m wondering if it is safe to do? And if so, what does a dentist charge for something like that? – Ozzie


Your dental implant question probably refers to a Twitter post between xxx and Drank that’s circulating. Drake’s photo was posted and there’s an awkward smudge on one of his front teeth. One of the comments made on the photo was:

“Lmao all that money and ur teeth still don’t look clean.”

Drake responded with:

“I have a pink diamond in my tooth…I brush with activated charcoal before any club night where I will see baddies know datttttttttttt”

Does Drake Have a Dental Implant for His Diamond Tooth?

Drake hasn’t clarified how he got the diamond in his tooth. We haven’t found any clear photos that show the tooth well. So, we can only guess what it could be. So here are the possibilities:

  • Natural tooth – The tooth with the diamond could be a natural tooth. Dentists are doctors, so their concern is to not harm natural teeth. Most dentists would view drilling into a natural tooth as causing harm, but a diamond in a tooth is considered cosmetic dentistry. So there are some dentists who would yield to the patient’s request.
  • A grill   A lot of celebrities have grills. This doesn’t appear to be a grill because the diamond is only on a single tooth. If Drake wanted a grill, he would probably have gold added to it for more bling, similar to what Lil Wayne has done.
  • Dental implant or a crown – Unless Drake had a missing tooth, it’s probably not a dental implant. Most likely, he has a dental crown with a diamond in it. Although it’s not common, a dental lab can easily make a crown with a space in it to embed a diamond.

Is it Safe to Put Diamond in Your Teeth?

Safety depends on the dentist and the technique used. If the procedure was done in a dental office, it’s safe. Most dentists would not recommend removing natural tooth structure to embed a diamond in it. But if Drake has a dental crown, having it placed was likely a necessary procedure and bling was added to it. If anyone other than a dentist does the dental work, it’s not safe. Bacteria can collect around the crown and increase the risk of decay. Or permanent damage to the tooth can occur and ultimately result in the loss of the tooth. It isn’t wise to extract a tooth just to get a dental implant with a diamond in it.

How Much Does Something Like This Cost?

Pink diamonds are rare, but their value depends on the intensity of the hue, the clarity, and the number of carats. We can’t see the pink hue in the photos of the diamond in Drake’s tooth, but the diamond is likely graded as “fancy” or “fancy light,” meaning it is less rare and less valuable than one with more intense shading. The stone alone probably cost a few thousand dollars. A crown from a cosmetic dentist who caters to celebrities would also cost a few thousand dollars.


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


Titanium or Zirconia Dental Implants? Three Things You Should Know Before Deciding

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Are you trying to decide whether titanium or zirconia dental implants are best for replacing your missing teeth? There are three things you should know about each of them before making a decision.

Titanium Dental Implants

1. Their History

In the last 20 years, titanium has gained popularity for use in many medical and dental procedures, including:

  • Dental implants
  • Hip and knee replacement
  • Elbow and shoulder joint replacement
  • Protect vertebrae in some back surgeries
  • Cardiovascular devices
  • External prosthesis

2. Why Titanium Dental Implants Work So Well

Titanium is so successful because it’s biocompatible, extremely resistant to corrosion, and super strong. The element has been rigorously tested and researched.

3. What about Titanium Allergies?

The thought of receiving titanium dental implants causes many people to be concerned about metal allergies and sensitivities. Nickel, cobalt, and chromium are the most common causes of reactions to metal in humans. The human body needs to maintain microelements of certain metals, including iron, copper, and zinc for certain functions. But what about titanium? It is biocompatible. Studies show that .06% percent—an extremely low rate—of patients experience a reaction. That means the vast majority of patients have not experienced a negative reaction to the implants.

If you have a history of metal allergies, speak with your implant dentist about your concerns. Some patients choose to be tested for allergies before receiving dental work that contains metal.

Zirconia Dental Implants

1. What Are They Made Of?

Zirconia dental implants are made of zirconium oxide. Zirconium dioxide is known for its high flexural strength. It is used in aerospace, optoelectronics, and nuclear power.

This dental ceramic contains both metallic and non-metallic atoms, which makes it a transition metal. Unlike titanium, it is not classified as a true metal. Although titanium sensitivities are rare, people who have them can usually tolerate zirconia implants.

2. How do zirconia dental implants compare to traditional ones?

  • They are titanium-free.
  • They are durable and long-lasting.
  • They are white, so many people think they are more aesthetically pleasing than titanium implants.
  • Unlike traditional implants, some zirconia implants are a single unit—combining the implant fixture and abutment (which supports a dental crown).

3. What’s the success rate?

Although studies vary, results of a September 2016, Springer – Clinical Oral Investigations study reports that after one year of function, zirconia implants had a 92% survival rate. The success rate of titanium implants is about 95%.

So What Should You Do?

Each patient case is different. Consult with at least two skilled prosthodontists or implant dentists to discuss your options. If you are allergic to titanium or any other metal, let the dentists know. You will need an examination to determine if you’re a candidate for this form of tooth replacement. A highly skilled prosthodontist will let you know the results you can expect from either zirconia or titanium implants.

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

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