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Avoiding a Dental Implant Horror Story

I keep hearing you have to be careful with who does your dental implants or it can be a complete disaster. I’ve read countless horror stories online. How do I find the best dentist to do my dental implants? I don’t want to end up another story on the internet.

Celina Y.

Dear Celina,

Illustration of dental implants in three parts

You’re wise to check ahead of time. I don’t know if you’ve already talked to your dentist about this. It could be that your dentist will be the best dentist for you, but let’s go through a few things first.

The Best Implant Dentist Will Have Extensive Post Graduate Training

There are several very reputable schools for dental implant study. General Dental school does not give enough training in such an advanced procedure. Never hesitate to ask a dentist where he received his (or her) implant training. Here are some of the best programs for that study:

  • The Misch International Implant Institute
  • The Las Vegas Institute for Advanced Dental Studies (LVI)
  • Dawson Academy

The Best Implant Dentist Can Do Both the Surgery and the Restorative Crown

Many mistakes are made regarding dental implants because of simple miscommunication between the dentist and the surgeon. If the surgeon places the implant in the wrong place, then what? You’ll have to have the implant completely re-done, which would mean the additional procedure of bone grafting and then a second surgery. Believe it or not, this happens more often than you’d think.

When the dentist and the surgeon are the same, there isn’t that danger. The dentist knows exactly where the implant needs to be placed for optimum security and aesthetic value.

The Best Implant Dentist Can Give You a Beautiful Restoration

You don’t want to just have a secure implant. You’ll also want a beautiful restoration. Check out your dentist’s smile gallery to make sure the dental crowns they craft are natural looking.

If your implant is being placed in a visible spot, and you’re not completely satisfied with the color of your teeth you’ll want to get them whitened before you have the implant crown made. Once the crowns completed, the color cannot be changed.

This blog is brought to you by Dr. Jerome Cha.

30 Years of Dentures – Can My Smile Be Pretty?

I’ve had dentures for over thirty years. I’ve spent my life embarrassed by my smile. The other day I read something that reminded me I’ve never tried to do anything about it. Instead, I accepted it as a fate I couldn’t change. Now I’m wondering. After all this time, is it too late for me to have a pretty smile?


Dear Miranda,

You’ve got a few issues going on here. But, first let me tell you before we go into what to do that yes, you can absolutely have a beautiful smile again.

Sadly, your dentures could have been gorgeous from the beginning. Many patients feel like what their dentist gives them is as good as it gets, especially when dentures are concerned. Maybe it’s because they remembered their grandmother’s dentures looked similar. It no longer has to be that way.

It would have taken a better cosmetic dentist than you obviously had. But, gorgeous dentures are done every day by expert cosmetic dentists. Looking at Dr. Cha’s smile gallery, there are a few patients there who had partial dentures placed. You can see they are stunningly gorgeous. When it comes to beauty, it’s not the procedure nearly as much as it is the dentist.

But how do you find such a dentist? When it comes to finding the most artistic and skilled cosmetic dentists, I recommend getting a dentist who’s reached accreditation level with the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (AACD).

Problems with Dentures

However, your bigger issue is not just how it looks. The downside of dentures is far greater over the long term. When your teeth were removed, your body wanted to preserve the minerals which are no longer necessary to retain your teeth. Unfortunately, that means you’ll start losing jawbone. Eventually, you won’t have enough jawbone to retain your dentures, leaving you a dental cripple.

Solution to the Problems with Dentures

Illustration of dental implants in three partsFirst, you’ll need to build up your jawbone again. This can be done with a procedure called bone grafting. This will provide you with bone again. From there, you have two choices. You can get your dentures re-done. You will have similar problems with losing jawbone all over again, along with the other types of problems which go along with dentures.

You have another option, though. My suggestion would be for you to instead of replacing your dentures to get dental implants instead. You’ll find that your quality of life goes up significantly, especially your chewing capacity.

This blog is brought to you by Dr. Jerome Cha.

Why Would Porcelain Veneers be the Price of a Home?

I had a disastrous first smile makeover. Even the dentist who created it knew it was awful and offered me a full refund without me even asking. That should tell you how bad it was. So, now I’m off to get this fixed. You can imagine I’m not too willing to smile at this moment. The “makeover” is humiliatingly bad. I made a list of cosmetic dentists in my area. I’ve tried one who was highly recommended in fact, I heard that people fly in from other countries to have him do their makeovers. Unfortunately, he quoted me the price of my home. Is that what I’m looking at if I want this fixed?

Cora L.

Dear Cora,

A single porcelain veneer being held by a dental tool

I’m going on the assumption that your house is worth more than $100,000. That’s pricey even for the best of the best cosmetic dentists. Is it possible he quoted you a full mouth reconstruction? Did he say anything about your bite being off?

Some dentists only want to work on the “ideal” treatment, but a great cosmetic dentist can give you a gorgeous smile even if your bite is a bit off. Though, if it’s very off, you may want to look into TMJ disorder because you don’t want an additional problem.

What you were quoted isn’t a typical cost of getting porcelain veneers. I wouldn’t panic that you’ll have to mortgage your house to get this fixed. In fact, cost isn’t the biggest factor in determining who’s a better dentist. I know a couple of dentists in the area who might be able to illustrate this for you.

A Tale of Two Dentists Who do Porcelain Veneers

Dentist “A” costs a fortune. He gives gorgeous smile makeovers. Dentist “B” isn’t the cheapest but is less than dentist “A”. He gives gorgeous smile makeovers. It’s more about the skill of the dentist than it is the price.

In your place, because you’re already repairing a disaster, I’d say you need a highly skilled and artistic cosmetic dentist. See if there’s an AACD accredited dentist in your area. Most of them even have a beautiful smile guarantee.

If there’s not one within a reasonable distance, then look on the website. They list artistic cosmetic dentists by area. A dentist can’t buy their way onto the site. Either way you’ll get great results.

This blog is brought to you by Dr. Jerome Cha.

Teeth Whitening and Pot Stains

Can you tell me if teeth whitening can get rid of pot stains? If so would someone use the tray teeth whitening or the Zoom? Asking for a friend….

Dan S.

Dear Dan,

an attractive white smile
After Teeth Whitening

Here’s what you can tell your friend…

You can imagine there haven’t been any clinical studies done on this to date. Not only is a brand unwilling to give patients marijuana, they’re not likely to align their brand with it either. Though, my guess would be this will change because more states are legalizing its use.

Even without the studies, I can tell you that teeth whitening can remove marijuana stains because of the nature of THC stains that have been observed in patients. That being said, there are some things you should know first.

Any teeth whitening needs be done on clean teeth. If you haven’t had your teeth recently cleaned, the whitening gel will not distribute evenly which will give you blotchy teeth. Not an attractive look.

As to whether to use take-home whitening or Zoom whitening depends on how quickly you need results. Zoom will completely whiten your teeth in one appointment. Take home does it gradually so the results can be as brilliant but will happen over a period of weeks instead of the same day.

Before You Whiten Your Teeth

Are you certain your friend’s stains are from marijuana? THC stains are usually very easy to remove so if your friend regularly brushes his teeth and gets check-ups there really shouldn’t be that much staining, at least not from that.

It could be that he’s assuming it’s from that but they’re actually stained from things like cigarettes or coffee/tea, etc. Those will need professional whitening as they are harder to remove and get into the pores of the teeth more readily.

Pot Smoking and Oral Health

Something else to be aware of. People who smoke marijuana have a much higher rate of gum disease and decay. Most of that has to do with the effects of THC on the gums. I would also venture to guess that when someone is high, they’re binging on lots of food because of the “munchies”. That’s more likely to be things like carbs, sugary snacks, and sodas than it is to be carrot sticks and other healthy snacks. Plus, it’s highly unlikely brushing and flossing after snacking like that is going to be high on their priority list if they happen at all.

Let your friend know how important it is he brush carefully afterward, and also see a dentist regularly. Otherwise, he will develop gum disease which leads to tooth loss. Then he’s looking at expensive tooth replacement options such as dental implants.

Some recreational users avoid the dentist out of fear of being turned in. That’s really not a legitimate fear. They won’t turn him in, with the possible exception of if he came to the office high and was trying to drive himself home. That would make him a public danger.

This blog is brought to you by Dr. Jerome Cha.

What Do I Look For in the Best Cosmetic Dentist?

I want to get drop dead gorgeous porcelain veneers. My aunt, who’s filthy rich, asked me what I dream about. I told her having a smile which doesn’t embarrass me. Then she handed me a blank check and said. “Go go it.” She was serious, too. I burst into tears. Now that I have this dream as a possibility, I want to do it right. How do I go about finding the best cosmetic dentist?

Thank you,

Dear LeeAnne,

A single porcelain veneer being held by a dental tool

How exciting! You have a very generous aunt. You’re also wise to be doing research before investing in a permanent smile. I’m sorry you’ve spent your life feeling embarrassed about your smile. If it’s any consolation about half of all Americans feel the same way.

When it comes to finding the best cosmetic dentist, there are three skills that are of equal importance.

  • Technical Skill
  • An Artistic Eye
  • Empathy

The first one always makes sense to patients. Of course you want a dentist with the skill to do the procedure, but what do artistry and empathy have to do with it?

Creating a beautiful smile is like creating a work of art. Two artists can have the same subject and their painting will turn out completely different depending on their level of artistry. The same is true with porcelain veneers. The dentist has to understand how facial shape, smile width, subtleties of color, and shape of the teeth all work together to create a portrait of sorts.

Empathy is equally important. You sort of explained why during your question. You have lived with a smile that you’ve been ashamed of your whole life. You want one to be proud of. You need a cosmetic dentist who understands this is about how YOU feel about the results. Not how he feels. You don’t want a dentist who lets pride in his “creation” get in the way of giving you your dream smile.

How Do You Find the Best Cosmetic Dentist?

The easiest way to locate a skilled, artistic cosmetic dentist is through the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry ( They have an accreditation program to separate the sheep from the goats. With no offense intended to goats. They have to pass stringent oral and written exams as well as demonstrate artistry in a list of recent cases they’ve completed. Bear in mind that being a member and being an accredited member are different.

Not everyone has an accredited dentist near them and there are some fantastic dentists on their way toward accreditation that just haven’t finished yet. It’s a long process. In that case, check out the website. They recommend skilled artistic dentists by zip code and the distance you’re willing to travel.

But what about empathy? How do you measure that ahead of time? I’d suggest two things. First, check their reviews. What type of experience have other patients had with them. Second, make sure they have some sort of beautiful smile guarantee. By that I don’t mean a smile they think is beautiful, but one YOU love. Check out Dr. Cha’s guarantee to see what I mean.

I hope this helps!

This blog is brought to you by Dr. Jerome Cha.

If I Get Dentures, will I Get Teeth Right Away?

If I have all my teeth extracted, will I get the teeth removed and dentures put in on the same day? How does that work, am I asleep?

Cora M.

Dear Cora,

Image of Dentures

A lot what happens depends on the type of dentures you get. As for whether you’re asleep, that’s really up to you. There are several options available:

  • Local Anesthetic: Some patients prefer to stay awake for the whole procedure and just use a local so they don’t feel it.
  • Oral Conscious Sedation: Most patients prefer this option. You take a pill that makes you very sleepy and you’ll rest throughout the entire procedure. Many patients find they don’t even remember having it.
  • IV Sedation: Not all sedation dentists have this available. Dr. Cha is one of the few who does and is DOCS certified, so you’ll know you’re in safe hands.

Immediate Dentures

If you elect to have immediate dentures placed you can have your teeth removed and walk out with a full set of dentures that day. While the obvious advantage is having your dentures that day, there are drawbacks. As the swelling goes down they’ll come loose and need re-fitting. Often you’ll need several re-fittings and sometimes a new denture will have to be made when healing is completed six month’s later.

Conventional Dentures

With these, your teeth are removed and you’ll wait about eight weeks for some of the swelling to go down before your dentures are made. This has the benefit of needing fewer re-fittings, feeling better from the start, and costing less.

An Alternative to Dentures

No matter which type of dentures you choose, they both have one major drawback— facial collapse. When your teeth are removed, your jawbone begins shrinking. The reason for that is the redistribution of the minerals. Your body recognizes there are not longer any tooth roots there and assumes the bone is no longer needed. It reabsorbs the minerals to use elsewhere throughout your body. Eventually, you lose so much jawbone, you don’t have enough left to keep your dentures in.

If you get dental implants, it protects you from losing that bone structure. It does that by implanting a prosthetic root into your jaw bone. Then tops it with a porcelain crown. Your body recognizes the root and leaves the minerals where they are. For added benefit, they’re much more secure and more like having your own natural teeth back again.

This blog is brought to you by Dr. Jerome Cha.

Dentist Refuses to Give Son Porcelain Veneers

I’m looking for options for my 10-year-old son. A neighborhood child chased my son with a dog. He was so terrified he ran too fast and tripped, chipping his front tooth. He’s really embarrassed to smile. I want to get a solid fix for him, like a porcelain veneer. Our dentist refuses. I suggested a crown. He refused that too. I need options. What CAN I do for my son?

Olivia N.

Dear Olivia,

I’m sorry your son had such a horrifying experience. Hopefully, the neighbor boy’s parents are taking some initiative in helping with this expense. I hope this experience hasn’t soured him on dogs.

There is a good reason for not giving your son either a porcelain veneer or crown, though I do understand you want a solid treatment.

Your son’s bite is still developing. If you did one of those other treatments, though fantastic for adults, you’d have to replace them every few years. That’s an unnecessary expense. Plus, with a crown, you’d be forced to ground down perfectly healthy tooth structure. Fortunately, there is a great solution.

A Conservative Repair for a Chipped Tooth

A smile with a chipped front tooth
Before Dental Bonding
A smile after a chipped tooth is repaired
After Dental Bonding

Traditionally, a chipped tooth is restored using dental bonding. This uses composite resin to fill in the chip and blend it naturally with his natural tooth structure. If it makes you feel better, this solution is the go-to for adults in this situation as well.

One word of caution. This is done free-hand. If your pediatric dentist isn’t a skilled cosmetic dentist, you’d be better served having a general dentist who is willing to treat children do the procedure who’s an experienced cosmetic dentist to ensure his restoration will look natural.

This blog is brought to you by Dr. Jerome Cha.

Dentist Pressuring Me to Whiten My Teeth

I am getting annoyed at my dentist. I’m planning on getting a dental implant on a front tooth. It’s going to cost me a fortune. Yet, my dentist still isn’t satisfied. He’s nagging me to get my teeth whitened first. That’s even more money. Should I do what he wants? Is there a legitimate reason or is it just a money grab?

Luis F.

Dear Luis,

before teeth whitening
Before Teeth Whitening
After Teeth Whitening
After Teeth Whitening

While I don’t know your dentist or his motives, there is a sound principle behind you getting your teeth whitened ahead of getting your dental implant, especially given the tooth you’re replacing is a visible front tooth.

What your dentist doesn’t seem to have explained to you is the reason. Once the porcelain crown for your dental implant is made, the color cannot be changed. If your teeth are showing some yellowing and you eventually decide to whiten them, you’ll have a beautiful white smile….except for where your implant crown is. That will still match your older yellowed color. That will be both distracting and unattractive.

Doesn’t Teeth Whitening Take Forever?

One argument is that teeth whitening can take weeks to get to the level of whitening the patient wants. When you’re anxious to get started on your implant surgery, that can seem like an unnecessary delay. After all, you could simply replace the crown later when you’re ready to whiten. However, it’s no longer necessary.

With Zoom Whitening, or other brand of in-office whitening, you can completely whiten your teeth in just one appointment. You will want to give it a week before getting your crown though, in order to allow the color to settle a bit. But, with dental implants, that’s not a problem. The implant surgery comes before the crown, so you have plenty of time.

This blog is brought to you by Dr. Jerome Cha.

My Dentist Says I’m Being Unreasonable

I saved up for years to get a smile makeover. My dentist and I decided on Lumineers so that we wouldn’t have to grind my teeth. I did read that you should ask a dentist to try the Lumineers on first to make sure you like them before he bonds them on completely. I told him that’s what I wanted. He said okay. But, when the time came he didn’t try them on. He just bonded them onto my teeth without me even looking at them. I didn’t realize that’s what he was doing. I thought it was the try-in. When I first saw them I burst into tears. They’re so bulky they look like horse teeth and the color looks chalky, not natural. It’s so obvious these aren’t my teeth. I told him I didn’t want them and he said they’re already bonded. What?? Now I can’t fix this and I want my money back, but he’s refusing and saying I’m being unreasonable. Am I?

Miranda D.

Dear Miranda,

A Woman Giving a Thumbs up in the dental chair

Not only are you not being unreasonable, but your dentist has behaved unethically. He completed a procedure without your permission. If you turned him into the dental board, he’d get in a lot of trouble. You have a fantastic case for a full refund.

The biggest problem you’re facing at this point is your dentist is likely a decent general dentist but is in over his head with cosmetic procedures. There are a few things that lead me to believe this. He made several mistakes that the best cosmetic dentists would never make.

How Do You Know if You Have the Best Cosmetic Dentist?

First, his dependence on Lumineers is an error. Lumineers are highly marketed to inexperienced cosmetic dentists as being easy to place because they don’t require tooth preparation. Unfortunately, the result will often end up like you’ve experienced with bulky teeth.

It’s a common misconception that your teeth have to be ground down for porcelain veneers. That’s not true. Dental crowns require grinding. Veneers usually require mild tooth shaving.

Second, he didn’t use a try-in paste. Even without you requesting him to let you approve the veneers before they’re permanently bonded he should have done that. Good cosmetic dentists ALWAYS do that. In fact, most of them have a beautiful smile guarantee.

Third, he didn’t care that you weren’t satisfied. A true cosmetic dentist would be horrified if a patient was so dissatisfied with their work it caused them to cry. They would instantly offer to do them over.

You need to get a little forceful about your refund. Remind him he bonded them on without your approval and you’ll be taking it to the dental board. That should be enough to light a fire under him. Then, go to a dentist who’s accredited by the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry. If they’ve reached accreditation level, you’ll get a stunning smile.

This blog is brought to you by Dr. Jerome Cha.

Please Tell Me I Have Options Other Than Dentures?

I’ve stopped crying long enough to write you. I’m 28 years old. My parents never took me to the dentist. I didn’t really think about it much until last week when my new job told me I had dental insurance. That was kind of exciting. So, I was thrilled to get to go to the dentist for the first time. That feeling quickly turned from elation to despair. He told me that my teeth were a wreck and he should pull them all and replace them with dentures. He really pressured me to do it right then. I was in shock. Dentures! At my age! I burst into tears. That’s when he grew impatient and said, “What did I expect when I neglected my teeth my entire life.” I got angry and walked out. I haven’t neglected my teeth. I brush AND floss everyday, which people who have been to the dentist don’t do. Also, how was it my fault my parents couldn’t afford to take us to the dentist? Is there any chance he’s wrong? I’d think if my teeth were in that bad of shape, I’d know somehow. Wouldn’t I be in pain or even see cavities? If he’s not wrong, are dentures my only option. Please help me!

Annabelle P.

Dear Annabelle,

Tulsa Dentures

Wow! I’m not sure what to say. Mostly, I feel sorrowful that your first experience with the dentist was this negative. Not all dentists are as grumpy as the one you experienced. And they certainly would not have such a pessimistic attitude about your dental health.

You may not feel this way right now, but there is hope. In fact, I’m pretty sure you won’t need dentures at your age. I have no idea why your dentist just jumped right to dentures. That’s generally an absolute last resort, even if you do have to remove all of your teeth.

The first step for you is to get a second opinion and see what the true condition of your teeth is. Most dentists will make it their first priority to save as many teeth as absolutely possible. If you do need to have some teeth removed, dentures won’t be their top recommendation.

Alternatives to Dentures

There are several alternatives to dentures. Most of which are a better option.

Dental Implants

Tulsa Dental implant

This is the ideal tooth replacement. As you can see from the image on the left, this puts a prosthetic tooth root into your jawbone to stabilize a dental crown. The crown serves as the visible part of your teeth. The stability of the implant allows you to eat, drink, and care for your teeth as you normally would.

A Dental Bridge

Tulsa Dental Bridge

Another good option is a dental bridge. It uses the teeth on either side of the extracted tooth to anchor your new false tooth. These are especially useful when the adjacent teeth are needing crowns to begin with. It’s a little less expensive than dental implants as well.

This blog is brought to you by Dr. Jerome Cha.