Below are some of the most frequently asked questions patients have about dentistry and oral health issues. If you have any other questions, or would like to schedule an appointment, we would love to hear from you.

What is a dental implant?

A dental implant is a synthetic tooth root that is threaded and metallic (like a wood screw) and is commonly made of titanium. The inside of the implant is threaded (like the outside) and allows a dentist to screw all different types of parts and pieces into it. A dental implant can be used to replace a single tooth (by attaching a crown to it) or can be used to replace a jaw full of missing teeth (using 4-6 implants).

Can I get an MRI or go through airport security with a dental implant?

Yes! Titanium is a non-magnetic metal and it will not give you any trouble when getting an MRI or when being checked through airport security.

What is the All-on-Four Dental Implant procedure?

This is a treatment option for persons who are missing all of their teeth in a jaw, or have a jaw full of non-restorable teeth. This option will replace all missing teeth in a jaw using only four well-spaced and well-placed dental implants. Typically, a patient will have teeth “fixed” to (screwed into) the implants in that jaw on the day that they are placed.

This temporary set of “fixed” teeth will remain in place for four months while the bone heals nicely to the implants. After 3-4 months, this temporary set of teeth will be removed and replaced by the dentists with the final set of teeth. The final set of teeth will contain a framework (or skeleton) that supports the prosthetic teeth – this makes them stronger and more durable, and allows the patient to eat a wider range of food types without the chance for fracture. This option is NOT removable by the patient and is to be cleaned daily while in place as if brushing their natural teeth.

These prosthetics have a varied life-span ranging from 10 years to forever, depending on the materials used to make them. The vast majority of All-on-Fours are composed of acrylic teeth, acrylic pink gum tissue and zirconium supporting framework. These acrylic-zirconium prosthetics have an expected life span of 10 years (based on the wear rating of the company that makes the acrylic teeth), but can last less than or much greater than 10 years depending on how the patient uses and cares for the prosthesis once delivered. Someone who grinds their teeth or uses their prosthesis to open bottles will experience a shorter life span with their teeth than someone who uses their teeth for more normal functions (eating, smiling, etc.).

A patient has the option of having their All-on-Four made fully of zirconium. In this case, the prosthesis will look and feel much more natural, rigid and substantial in terms of chewing ability and thickness of the restoration. A fully zirconium restoration will feel much less bulky and will have much sharper teeth (more natural) as compared to the acrylic-based version mentioned above. The process of making the zirconium All-on-Four prosthesis is much more labor-intensive, more technique-sensitive and requires costlier materials than the process to make the acrylic version, and thus is more expensive up-front.  However, patients that elect to have the zirconium prosthesis option enjoy much lower maintenance costs over the life of their prosthesis, that more than makes up the difference.

How are All-on-4 Dental Implants different from dentures?

All-on-4 implants are a set of teeth that look and feel like natural teeth. All-on-4 dental implants:

  • Are “permanent” teeth that are brushed and cleaned like natural teeth
  • Do not have plastic across the roof of your mouth
  • Do not have to be taken out
  • Do not need adhesives
  • Are comfortable because they do not press down on your gums
  • Allow you to experience the hot and cold of your food, as well as the taste
  • Allow you to bite with increased force (up to 70% more), so you can eat all of your favorite foods again
  • Prevent bone deterioration
  • Restore your facial features
How do All-on-4 Dental Implants compare to traditional implants?

The All-on-4 dental implant technique utilizes only four implants per arch, whereas traditional implants utilize anywhere from six to eight implants, or more, in each arch. The implants of the All-on-4 procedure are also placed at an angle, which allows for increased contact by using the natural support of your bone. In addition, the All-on-4 procedure requires no bone grafting for most patients, which is common in traditional implant procedures. Therefore, All-on-4 dental implants save time, money, and discomfort.

How long is the All-on-4 Dental Implant surgery?

The surgery and conversion of the denture takes approximately 2.5-4 hours per arch.

What is the success rate with All-on-4 Dental Implants?

Published studies show a 98% success rate using All-on-4 dental implants.

Who is the ideal candidate for All-on-4 Dental Implants?

The ideal candidate for the All-on-4 Dental Implant procedure from Hart & Coco Prosthodontics is someone who is currently wearing dentures or who will need dentures in the future. Age doesn’t matter but dental implant candidates should be in good health.

Where will my replacement teeth be made?

Hart & Coco Prosthodontics does everything in-house in our own dental laboratory. Your new teeth will be crafted by a National Board Certified Lab Technician on-site. In fact, every part of your prosthetic procedures, from consultation to follow-up care, happens under one roof.

Will my results look natural?

Absolutely. The All-on-4 dental implant technique gives you permanent teeth that look, feel and function just like real teeth. No one will know you have implants unless you tell them.

Why don't I get my permanent set of teeth the day my implants are placed?

As with any surgery, you need time to heal. However, you will not leave our office without teeth! A temporary set of teeth will be placed on your implants. Once the healing process is complete, your permanent teeth will be placed at a follow-up visit approximately four months after surgery.

What if I just need implants on my bottom arch? What if I someday need All-on-4 dental implants on both arches?

All-on-4 implants can be placed on just the upper or lower arch. Your implant specialists will evaluate your circumstance and if he or she feels you might eventually need replacement teeth on both the upper and lower arches, he or she might suggest performing the procedure on both arches at the same time. This provides better results while also saving time and money. Your doctor will work with you to determine what best meets your needs both health wise and cost wise.

What type of cleaning is required after an implant is placed?

Dental implants should be treated like your natural teeth, daily brushing and flossing is recommended. Our team of specialists and dental hygienists will review oral hygiene instructions with you and will recommend the most appropriate oral hygiene treatment plan to fit your needs.

Are there any additional costs/fees to expect?

All fees will be discussed prior to starting treatment during the consultation appointment.

Will I ever go without teeth?

Absolutely not! With any procedure, whether it be full mouth extractions with Immediate Denture placement or full mouth extractions with All-on-Four placement, our patients will NEVER go without teeth. Your custom prosthesis will be placed immediately following the extractions and/or implant placement at the time of surgery.

How are Hart & Coco's crowns different from others?

Most crowns are PFM crowns. The letters “PFM” stand for “porcelain-fused-to-metal” – so these PFM crowns are made of two materials: porcelain that is bonded or baked onto a metal substructure. Porcelain is glass. Typically, the metal that is used in a PFM crown is a mixture of metals (alloy). The metal substructure is the strength of the crown and the porcelain glass is used to mask the presence of the metal to make the crown look more like a tooth.

PFM crowns are WEAK by design in that the glass that masks the metal bares the pressure and strength of the patients’s bite and everything that the patient eats. Failure of the PFM crowns usually happens when the porcelain breaks and cracks off of the metal substructure when exposed to excessive pressure in the mouth.

We only use full-contour zirconium to make our crowns. “Full-contour” means that the same material is used through and through the crown – there is nothing layered on top of anything else (as is the case with a PFM crown). Zirconium is a naturally occurring element on Earth that is white in color, can be custom stained, textured, and glazed to resemble and match almost any tooth shade or color.

Zirconium is a very hard material making it VERY durable. It can withstand even the strongest patient bite or grinding habit when handled correctly during the crown-making process. We make our crowns in-house using Italian-made equipment and materials. Because the process to make crowns out of zirconium is so technique sensitive, our doctors make the crowns themselves. This results in a beautiful crown that could potentially last forever.

How long will a crown last?

It is suggested that existing crowns be replaced every 10-12 years because of wear patterns and micro-fractures in the porcelain. Our zirconium crowns do not wear, but it is very important to maintain great oral hygiene to extend the life of your crowns and the natural teeth surrounding them. If you see us regularly for checkups (at least once a year), we can guarantee our zirconium crowns for five years. And again, they could potentially last forever!

What is a Conventional Denture?

All About Your First Visit

Below are some of the most frequently asked questions patients have about dentistry and oral health issues. If you have any other questions, or would like to schedule an appointment, we would love to hear from you.

This is a prosthesis that is used to replace a jaw full of missing teeth. This prosthesis is fully acrylic and is supported by the remaining gum tissue of the jaw and is retained by suction and the adhesiveness of saliva.

Patients with dry mouth or even a reduced level of saliva will have issues keeping their dentures in their mouth.

A patient wearing dentures is in a steady process of bone loss in their jaws. Bone shrinks in areas where the patient is missing teeth. As the bone shrinks, the gum tissue of the jaw shrinks with it resulting in a denture that fits worse and worse (becoming looser) as time goes by. Each successive denture will fit worse than the one before it. As we always say, “YOU’LL NEVER HAVE AS MUCH BONE AS YOU DO RIGHT THIS SECOND!”

We inform every denture wearer of these implications and suggest that implants be placed to keep your bone from resorbing. This will result in care that is more natural and functional for our patients. Read more about Conventional Dentures here: “Facts you should know about dentures”

How often should my Conventional Denture be replaced?

Typically, Conventional Denture should be remade every 5-7 years. Acrylic is a porous material and bacteria can find its way into those minute holes and break down the prosthesis. Patients may also find that the fit of their dentures changes over the years as their jaw bone shrinks. Since it is normal for your mouth to change and denture teeth to wear down, have them checked during your regular dental visits.

What is the best way to clean my Conventional Denture?

We suggest using a mild soap or a natural toothpaste to clean your dentures. Do not use a whitening toothpaste because of the abrasives that are added to them.

What exactly is gum disease?

It’s a bacterial infection of the tissues that hold your teeth in place.

What are some of the main causes of gum disease?

Bacteria are naturally found in healthy mouths. However, when the number of bacteria get too high due to poor brushing habits – or using the wrong tools to clean your teeth – they can build up and form hard deposits on the teeth that cause the gum tissue to become swollen and inflamed.

What is gingivitis? Is that the same as gum disease?

Gingivitis literally means ‘inflammation of the gingiva’ or gum tissue. It is one of the early signs and symptoms of gum disease. Gingivitis will persist through all degrees and stages of gum disease.

What are the symptoms and visible signs of gum disease?

Swollen and red gum tissue that bleeds easily with eating and brushing and is sometimes painful, mobile (wiggling) teeth, and bad breath.

What is the best way to prevent gum disease?

Use the right tools to clean your teeth and clean them regularly at home. We recommend brushing and flossing two times a day. Also, visit your dentist at least every 6 months to have the impossible-to-reach hard deposits on your teeth removed by the hygienist. The hygienist can monitor your home care and make you aware of areas you may be missing when brushing.

What are the treatment options for those with gum disease?

If gum disease is caught soon enough it can be treated by a cleaning visit with the hygienist and faithful at-home brushing, rinsing and flossing. Untreated gum disease will progress very rapidly and may necessitate the referral to a specialist to treat your diseased tissues. Periodontists are specialists at dealing with more advanced cases of gum disease and may recommend surgery to remove diseased tissues. If untreated long enough, your dentist may suggest having your teeth removed and consider different options (such as partials, dentures or implants) to replace your newly missing teeth.

Will treatment require surgery?

It depends on the severity of the condition. Gum tissue surgeries can be very predictable but often require meticulous home cleaning for the remaining life of the teeth.

Who can get gum disease?

Anyone with teeth are susceptible to gum disease, including children. As long as the individual maintains good, thorough, regular home care (brushing, flossing and rinsing) and they regularly visit their dentist they can prevent the beginning of the disease.

What should I look for in a toothpaste/mouth rinse to prevent gum disease?

Most toothpastes and mouth rinses function about the same when it comes to gum disease. The more important question is what should I look for in a toothbrush, as the mechanical removal of the bacteria is really what can prevent gum disease. We recommend a rechargeable (electric) toothbrush, such as Sonicare, for our patients to use at home. They are available for purchase in almost every pharmacy or general goods retail store (Target, Walmart or K-mart), and we feel they are the most effective means of patient care at home. An electric toothbrush is an investment, costing between $35 and $150, however, they will save you a fortune in dental bills and will make retaining your own teeth for a lifetime more of a reality.