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Do I need a prosthodontist for dental implants?

By Prosthodontist No Comments

I just read an online article that says I should be looking for a prosthodontist if I want a dental implant. This was the first time I’ve heard of this. Don’t prosthodontists make dentures? Why can’t I safely go to my regular dentist for dental implants? I don’t really want to change doctors for this, but I also want to make sure I don’t have any problems.

Thanks, Alina


You’re right. Prosthodontists make dentures. However, they specialize in oral prosthetics, such as missing tooth replacements.

General Dentists Can Provide Dental Implants

A general dentist absolutely can offer you dental implants. Dentists learn how to do virtually all types of procedures during dental school training, and many take additional training on a topic as part of their continuing education requirements. If your dentist offers this service, it’s because he believes he’s proficient enough to provide you with good results. However, general dentists often work with specialists, such as oral surgeons, periodontists, and prosthodontists to ensure the surgical portion is done perfectly.

Why a Prosthodontist May Be a Better Choice

While general dentists receive training on the bite and dental implants in school, there are several reasons that a prosthodontist might be a better choice:

  • They are specialists who have received extra years of schooling to better understand these processes.
  • Their skills are used more often, so they more proficient at it, which enhances patient outcomes.
  • Both the dental implant and the crown can be placed by the prosthodontist, which can decrease the chance of errors or miscommunication between an oral surgeon and restoring dentist.

If you could choose between a dentist who learned about a procedure briefly several years ago and performs it once every month or two versus another dentist who spent years learning about it and does several cases similar to yours in an average week, you would likely choose the specialist. Again, that doesn’t mean that a general dentist can’t perform the work properly or is ill-equipped to do it, but if you’re undergoing surgery and investing in your smile, you undoubtedly want to have the most skilled doctor perform your surgery.

Choosing a Dental Implant Doctor

  • Seek out someone who does the procedure regularly.
  • Ask if the dentist has received any additional training.
  • Ask about his or her success rate.
  • Read reviews and check out before-and-after photos.


This blog is sponsored by Naperville American-board certified prosthodontist Dr. Anthony LaVacca. Dr. LaVacca is a specialist who offers comprehensive dental care for the whole family in addition to prosthodontic services.

Three Reasons Your Prosthodontist Won’t Give You a Mini Implant

By Prosthodontist No Comments

My prosthodontist refuses to give me a mini implant and I’m wondering if I should get a second opinion. I have a broken, abscessed top molar. It was weak already and I regret not getting a crown for it. Last week my dentist referred me to a prosthodontist for the tooth. She agreed with my dentist that  I need to have the tooth extracted and then replaced with an implant. I have already an implant for another tooth, but I don’t like the way it looks. The tooth looks fake. Now that I need another implant that I wasn’t expecting, I’m trying to do it in the most affordable way possible. So I asked the prosthodontist for a mini implant. She said that a mini won’t stand up under the pressure of biting and chewing. Why do other dentists still use them if they are no good? Do you have any advice? Is she just trying to upsell me? Thanks. Tegan

Tegan – Your prosthodontist is correct. Implants come in different sizes and are used for different purposes. A molar tooth needs a standard fixture—not a mini implant. Consider the facts.

Why Your Prosthodontist Won’t Recommend a Mini Implant

Mini implants have specific uses. They are 1/3 the diameter of standard fixtures, so they won’t work for every case of missing teeth, including molars. But they do work well in the following cases:

  • Support dentures – A mini implants are primarily designed to support dentures.
  • Replace smaller teeth and incisors – If you have a small tooth that needs to be replaced—such as an incisor or a small premolar—your prosthodontist would recommend a mini implant. They are not strong enough to support molar teeth. Molar teeth chew, crush, and grind food. A small implant fixture can easily bend or break under the pressure.  A standard dental implant will be needed.
  • Replace narrow teeth – These thin implants can also be used replace narrow teeth when standards implants are too large.

How to Find the Right Prosthodontist for Natural-Looking Results

So you will need a standard implant to replace your molar tooth. If your interest is in a mini implant because you don’t like the way your current implant crown looks, discuss your concerns with your prosthodontist. Ensure you choose a prosthodontist with extensive training in cosmetic dentistry. He or she will match the implant crown to the color, translucency, and look of your natural teeth.

Ask to see before-and-after photos of cases like yours. See if you can distinguish the patient’s implant tooth from his or her natural teeth in the photos. If necessary, get a second or third opinion until you find the right provider to give you the results you want.

This post is sponsored by board-certified implant dentist and international lecturer Dr. Anthony LaVacca.

Is Bulimia or GERD Damaging Your Teeth? 3 Ways a Prosthodontist Can Help

By Prosthodontist

Why are bulimia and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) being discussed in relation to your teeth and a prosthodontist? Both conditions increase the amount and the frequency of stomach acid on your teeth. The effects can seriously damage your teeth and your oral tissue.

Facts about Bulimia

  • Bulimia is characterized by binge eating followed by purging.
  • According to the National Institute of Mental Health, binge eating is the most common eating disorder in the U.S. At some point in their life, about one percent of the U.S. population is affected by the disorder.
  • Approximately 75% of bulimia sufferers are women and 10-25% are men.
  • Purging can include one or more of the following:

Facts about GERD

  • GERD is a gastric disease characterized by stomach acid or bile that irritates the lining of your food pipe.
  • It affects about 20% of the U.S. population.
  • Symptoms include:
    • bad breath
    • chest or upper-abdomen pain
    • difficulty swallowing or painful swallowing
    • nausea
    • respiratory problems
    • vomiting

Ways a Prosthodontist Can Help

A prosthodontist is a specialist. After dental school, he or she completes two years of post-graduate training specific to the replacement and restoration of teeth. When your teeth are repeatedly exposed to stomach acid, you need a dental professional to help preserve or restore your teeth. A prosthodontist will take the following steps:

1. Examination

Your prosthodonist will thoroughly examine your teeth and oral tissue for signs of damage, which can include:

  • Thin tooth enamel
  • Rounded edges or tips of teeth
  • Tooth discoloration
  • Tooth erosion

2. Prevention

Your prosthodontist will have several suggestions to prevent further damage to your teeth, including:

  • Limit your intake of soda, sugary food and drink, and acidic foods
  • Drink plenty of water throughout the day
  • Maintain good oral hygiene
  • Rinse your mouth after regurgitating
  • Avoid brushing your teeth immediately after vomiting, because they are weak from stomach acid
  • Use a soft-bristled toothbrush
  • Use non-abrasive toothpaste

3. Treatment

Depending on the condition of your teeth and your stage of recovery, your prosthodontist will recommend one or more of the following options.

  • Composite fillings – Tooth decay will be removed, and cavities can be filled with dental composite that matches your natural teeth.
  • Dental bonding – Chips or cracks in teeth can be seamlessly repaired with chairside bonding.
  • Dental crowns – Badly damaged teeth will need to be sanitized and protected with dental crowns.
  • Dental bridge or dental implant – If any of your teeth have fallen out, or if they need to be extracted, they can be replaced with a dental bridge or dental implants.
  • Other treatment – Your prosthodontist might recommend treatment for damage to your salivary glands, gum tissue, or other oral cavities.

Don’t delay getting help. Your oral health and overall well-being are closely related. Whether you have bulimia or GERD, a prosthodontist can help you preserve and restore your teeth.

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

Is a prosthodontist right for my mom?

By Prosthodontist No Comments

I have been trying to get my mom to see a prosthodontist I believe, for about 2 years now. She’s almost 70 and her teeth are shot. She only sees a dentist when something hurts, and then she asks to have the tooth pulled. Her dentist is telling her that she needs to have a full exam done and so he can have a treatment plan. That probably means all her teeth have to go, but she says she will only do it under full hospital anesthesia, which we can’t afford and isn’t covered by insurance. From what I understand, she will need a full set of dentures, which I believe is best to have done by a prosthodontist. She might not even have to be hospitalized for that. I’m at a point where her constant surprise toothaches are causing me to miss work or sleep. I’m sure it’s causing her a lot of anxiety too. I’m not sure what to do about this tooth-at-a-time issue with her. I’m all out of ideas. What can I do?

Thank you,



Dear Duane,

You’re on the right track. A little more detail about how a prosthodontist can help make another conversation with your mom more convincing.

What Does a Prosthodontist Do?

Prosthodontists have specialized training replacing missing teeth. They have more in-depth training on the mechanics of the mouth, how biting forces work, and how to create a good bite by using various forms of tooth replacement. In some cases, this includes dentures or partials, but other times it might be something like a bridge or dental implant. In other words, whether you’re missing one tooth or all of them, the prosthodontist is the dentist to see. Yes, a general dentist can do the same procedures, but his or her expertise is obviously generalized, so you can benefit from the additional training and education of a specialist.

How to Encourage the Elderly to See a Dentist

Respect Autonomy: Your mom gets the final say in this, and it’s important that she understands the final decision is hers. Oftentimes, people of all ages will rebel by rejecting an idea when they feel like it’s the only control they have.

Provide Information: Keep giving your mom the tools she needs to make an educated decision. Keeping natural teeth is important. It helps with eating, talking, and maintaining the shape of her jaw. When teeth are lost, there is nothing that can be a true replacement, though dental implants are the closest thing to a natural tooth.

At the same time, having bad teeth isn’t a good solution. Keeping damaged and decayed teeth is painful. She isn’t living life to its fullest. She likely has trouble eating, too. Also, the bacteria associated with tooth decay and periodontal disease is linked to poor heart health, diabetes, and other conditions. If her teeth need to be removed or repaired, she’s putting her overall health at risk by not getting help.

Implant-supported dentures might be an option to stabilize dentures and make them look and feel like natural teeth.

Understand Logic: Perhaps your mom has dental anxiety. That would make sense if she’s requesting full anesthesia. If so, she may be comfortable with in-office methods of relaxation, such as medications or nitrous. If you ask her probing questions, you may find an easy solution to the underlying problems.

Take Small Steps: Schedule a consultation with a prosthodontist. Let her know that the first visit is only to get a diagnosis. She doesn’t have to agree to any treatment that day, nor is she committed to going back. The visit is only to let her meet the dentist and find out her options. At this point, we don’t even know if she needs full dentures. She may be able to save some of her teeth if she gets prompt treatment. It’s also wise to give the dentist some background when you call to schedule. That way, they can be sure to address your mom’s concerns while she’s there. It will help her feel more in control of the situation and they can also take steps to keep her comfortable and relaxed.

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


Can a prosthodontist find out why CEREC crowns messed up my bite?

By Prosthodontist

I have been to 3 CEREC dentists and nobody can figure out why my bite has been off since I got the crowns. Would a prosthodontist do anything differently or should I just get new crowns? These crowns are 5 months old. The first dentist who placed the crowns talked a good game before I got the crowns but after I pressed him about why my bite is off and why my teeth hurt, he admitted that he has only been during CEREC for 7 months. He lied to me before I got the crowns. When I asked him about his first claim to have been doing for CEREC for years, he said that I must have understood. He has been doing crowns for 7 years but CEREC crowns for 7 months. This was no misunderstanding. My wife was with me when we discussed getting these crowns and she remembers the dentist saying 7 years for CEREC. I quit that dentist and have been to 2 other dentists to figure out what’s going on with my bite. I thought this was standard procedure to place crowns and get the bite right but evidently not. My good friend’s wife is a dental hygienist and she suggested that I see a prosthodontist. Is this really going to make a difference? What will done differently? Thanks. Blake

Blake – Most likely, the CEREC dentists you visited are general dentists. A prosthodontist is a specialist with two years of post-graduate training in tooth restoration. Prosthodontists receive extensive education in occlusion, or the way your teeth fit together when you bite down. You will receive a thorough examination of your crowns and natural teeth to determine why your bite is off.

Crown construction – Your prosthodontist will ensure that impressions of your teeth were properly taken to ensure the crowns were properly sized.

Natural tooth structure – Each natural tooth is tapered to allow the crown to fit securely over it. If your teeth weren’t tapered enough, the crowns can sit to high.

Internal condition of teeth – When your bite is off from crowns, it stresses and puts pressure on your natural teeth. The pressure can cause damage to tooth nerves or pulp—the living tissue inside your teeth.

After your visits to three different dentists without a resolution, it’s time to see a prosthodontist. If there is a board-certified dentist in your area, his or her expertise will benefit your case. A board-certified specialist has completed rigorous testing and submitted patient cases that prove his or her skill.

Don’t delay getting a second opinion. Prolonged pressure on your teeth from an improper bite can create even more problems.

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

Is too late to see a prosthodontist for dental implants?

By Prosthodontist

Is it too late to see a prosthodontist for dental implants? I got dentures 27 years ago and I didn’t know anything about dental implants until a few years ago. I’m ready for a change now because I am getting tired of my dentures. My teeth look fake and my cheeks sag over the dentures. They don’t fit right and I’m really frustrated because these dentures are only 3 years old. I was hoping that the fit would last longer. I’m 60+ and am wondering if it’s too late age wise or too late because I’ve been wearing dentures too long. Thank you. Isabel


It’s not too late to see a prosthodontist for dentures. In fact, a prosthodontist can resolve all your concerns and the issues you are having with dentures.

The fit – After years of wearing dentures, your jawbone shrinks. In time, it becomes difficult to keep a denture in. Your jawbone can be built up with bone grafting. This procedure is completed before you receive dental implants. It takes a few months for the bone grafting to heal. Bone grafting will lift your jawbone to support your facial muscles and take years off of your facial appearance. Adequate jawbone is also needed to support dental implants.

The function – A prosthodontist can help stabilize your dentures with dental implants. The dentures are secured to the implants, so speaking and eating with dentures will feel more like your natural teeth. Your dentures will have maximum stability with four to six dental implants.

The look – You can receive custom dentures that are tailored to fit your facial features and your mouth. They will look like your own natural teeth.

We suggest that you schedule appointments with two or three prosthodontists. Ensure that each dentist has extensive training in cosmetic dentistry. Although any prosthodontist can place your dental implants, beautiful cosmetic dentures require training and skill. You’ll get natural-looking results. The consultations will help you understand your options and select 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.

Can a prosthodontist make my dentures look better?

By Prosthodontist

In June of this year I received dentures from a general dentist. At the time I knew nothing about a prosthodontist so after I had a consultation with 2 different dentists, I selected one of the dentists. I got my 8 remaining teeth extracted so that I could get dentures. I learned about dental implants but they are just way out of my budge right now, but I am saving for them. The time since June has been stressful. The dentures have no character. The teeth in them look like pegs so my smile is very generic. It looks like a block of teeth, not individual teeth. My dentist calls it a perfect smile because all of the teeth look the same. I think it looks fake. Several of my friends have asked me what I did to my teeth. If it’s a close friend, I have explained that I have new dentures. Their reply is kind of like, ‘Okay, I understand now.’ That shouldn’t be. The results I got from this dentist tell me not to look to him for any resolution. I don’t think he is capable. So know that I know about prosthodontists, I am turning to you for advice. Is there anything that can be done to my new dentures to make them look better? Bridget

Bridget – A smile is so personal that it can affect the way you feel about yourself. We are sorry to learn of your bad experience with dentures and the impact it’s had on you. A skilled prosthodontist can design a smile that fits your mouth, facial features, and personality so that it looks completely natural. You will get compliments on your smile instead of questions about what happened to it.

Unfortunately, a prosthodontist isn’t able to alter your existing dentures to give them a lifelike appearance. Altering your dentures would affect your bite and the way the denture teeth fit in the base. Your dentures just wouldn’t look good.

We recommend that you schedule a consultation with one or two skilled prosthodontists. Take along with you pictures of your smile before you received dentures. A prosthodontist will be able to create a smile with new dentures that looks natural and helps you smile proudly.

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

What to avoid when looking for affordable dental implants

By Affordable Dental Implants, Prosthodontist

I am looking for affordable dental implants, but I know I want them from a dentist in the U.S. My cousin is 4 years older than me and she lives in California. Since Mexico is close, earlier this year, she went there for dental implants. She found a dentist who was U.S. trained. She spent a year with the process of going back and forth for follow-up appointments, and everything went well. She really liked the dentist too. Her implants look great and she saved $3000 over the cost of getting them in the U.S. When I spoke with her last month, she said she is having trouble with one of the implants. She had been back to Mexico trying to get it straight. She still likes the dentist but she is worried that she will need to get a second opinion because she has pain and swelling around the implant. The dentist in Mexico is talking about taking out the implant and starting all over again. Since I am looking for affordable dental implants I don’t want to make the same mistake, even with a U.S. dentist. What should I look for or ask about to make sure I am not getting cheap implants? Thanks Antoinette

You are wise to insist on getting affordable dental implants from a dentist in the U.S. The regulations for implant surgery and materials are much high than many countries. U.S. implant dentists also have to purchase insurance. Those are some of the reasons that U.S. costs are higher.

In many countries, including Mexico, your dental implants are not regulated. The contract will be between you and your doctor. If you have problems, you might have little recourse, and have to follow-up with an implant dentist in the U.S.

Successful dental implants require quality implant fixtures and the skill of a highly trained implant dentist. The success of your dental implants, in part, depends on those factors. So as you start seeking an implant dentist, check his or her credentials first. The skill of the dentist should be your primary concern. A conscientious implant dentist will use high-quality fixtures.

Dental implants require a great deal of skill as well, and that has a major impact on how well they perform. Overall, they have about a 98% success rate, but doctors with more experience deliver better results.

Find two or three skilled dentists, compare their credentials, and compare the costs for implants. In that sense, you can find the dentist who provides the most affordable dental implants. Financing and payment plans might also be available to meet your budget.

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

What will a prosthodontist do about a missing bottom central incisor?

By Dental Implants, Prosthodontist

I have a bottom front tooth missing. Central incisor is the name of the tooth. My dental hygienist wrote the name of it for me. It’s the one on the right side of my mouth. I am thinking about replacing it, but I haven’t said anything about it to my dentist yet. He is really a new dentist, maybe 3 years out of school and he refers patients out for tooth replacement. Don’t get me wrong. He is a good dentist but when I started going to him I didn’t have any major dental problems. So I am just trying to get a second opinion on what a prosthodontist would do to replace the tooth. I need a baseline before just accepting what someone pretty fresh out of dental school would recommend. An outside opinion on what my options are will help me make a decision. Thanks. Milt

Milton – It’s a good that you are seeking a second opinion from a prosthodontist. The replacement of a lower central incisor requires a very skilled dentist. The space for the tooth is very small, and care must be taken not to damage other teeth while replacing the missing one.

One option is a dental implant. A skilled implant dentist or prosthodontist needs to do the restoration. A small implant fixture will be used. Care must be taken to precisely place the implant to avoid damaging the roots of the adjacent teeth, and to allow the proper amount of space on either side of the implant.

The second option is a dental bridge. To receive a dental bridge, the tooth on either side of the missing one must be shaved down to have crowns placed over them. The replacement tooth will be suspended between the two dental crowns.

Find a dentist with credentials from either the American Board of Implantology or the International Congress of Implantologists. You’ll receive an accurate treatment recommendation and an excellent outcome for the treatment.

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

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