Category Archives: Dental Implants

Are There Metal-Free Dental Implants?

I have lost some teeth in the back of my mouth. I need to repalce them. My dream is to get dental implants and I have the money. The problem is I have severe metal allergies and I know they are done with metal implants. Are there any options which are metal free?


Dear Candace,

zirconia dental implants
Titanium and Zirconia Dental Implants

I’m glad you wrote. There is definitely a way for you to get dental implants, even with your metal allergies. First, I would check to see which metals are an issue for you. Traditional dental implants are made from titanium which are considered very biocompatible.

They’ve been used for years in the human body with things like hip replacements. It may be your body won’t have an issue with titanium.

However, if you are allergic to titanium there is now a metal-free option. Zirconia implants are gaining in popularity. Nicknamed liquid steel, zirconia is very strong.

Titanium Versus Zirconia Dental Implants

Both are strong and can provide for you a healthy tooth replacement. The only real hesitation many dentists have about using them over their titanium counterparts is the fact that they are newer.

We have lots of evidence and documentation on how long the titanium implants will last. They’ve got a great track record.

Because the zirconia implants are new, we don’t have any track record we can refer to. It’s likely they’ll last just as long as their titanium counterparts, but we don’t have the evidence yet.

Cosmetic Considerations with Dental Implants

This won’t affect you, but I’m going to bring it up for the benefit of others who may be reading this. If you are getting a dental implant for a tooth which is visible when you smile, you want to think long term.

The color the dental crown will be made when it is created is permanent. If you’re happy with the color of your teeth than that should be no problem. However, if you’ve considered whitening them, it is important you do the teeth whitening before your dental crown is made. This way it can be made to match the white color of your teeth.

If you wait and whiten your teeth later, the crown will have to be re-made in order to get them to match, costing you more money.

This blog is brought to you by Libertyville Dentist Dr. David Potts.

Dental Implant Emergency?

I’m a couple of months into my dental implant procedure. I noticed yesterday it started feeling different. When I pushed on the surrounding area it was sort of malleable. I left it alone and decided I’d call on Monday because we were going into the weekend. Today, though, my whole jaw is swollen and I can’t even eat. Is something seriously wrong?


Dear Madison,

Woman grabbing her jaw in need of an emergency dentist
Pain is always a dental emergency

It sounds like you’ve developed an infection at the dental implant site. Even worse, it sounds fast moving. Your jaw is now affected. Without treatment, this will keep spreading. If you think about how close your heart and brain are to your jaw, spreading to either of those can become life-threatening rather quickly.

Your implant dentist should have an after hours protocol for dental emergencies. This would definitely be considered one of those. Not only does an infection put you at risk, it puts your entire dental implant procedure at risk as well. The leading cause of dental implant failure is an infection.

If You Can’t Reach Your Dentist

If for some reason you can’t actually reach your dentist, I want you to do an internet search using the term “emergency dentist” or “dental emergency”. These are dentists who are willing to treat patients, such as yourself, when they can’t reach their dentist.

While some only treat during normal business hours, others would be willing to meet with you given the situation. Make sure they’ve placed dental implants themselves, however, and have good experience with that procedure. I wouldn’t want an inexperienced implant dentist to mess anything up.

In the absolute worst case scenario where you can’t find anyone, call your medical doctor. They won’t examine the implant site, but they will likely be willing to prescribe an antibiotic which should at least stave off the infection until you can get in to see your dentist on Monday.

This blog is brought to you by Libertyville Dentist Dr. David Potts.

Can Patients Order Implant Parts to Save Money?

I have snap-on implant dentures. I often need to replace the male retention caps. My dentist charges me $20 a pop, but I see them online for $20 for a set. I feel I’m being gouged. Is there any way for a patient to order these? The website where I see them only seem to sell to dental professionals.


Dear Brooke,

snap on dentures

I agree that your dentist has quite a markup on those. He may have a lot of overhead and he is trying to make up some of those expenses. While the websites will only take orders from dental offices, it is rarely the dentist who places those orders. It’s usually one of their hygienists or assistants.

Most dentists go into their field because they want to make a difference in people’s lives. The first thing I’d do is talk to your dentist and tell him the expense is making life challenging for you. Ask him if he’d be willing to sell them to you closer to cost.

If he says no, you have two choices.

Call a Different Implant Dentist

You could call around to some local offices who offer dental implants and snap-on dentures to see if you can reach a sympathetic staff member who would be willing to order them for you and let you pay them. You are very likely to find one.

Order Dental Implant Parts on Ebay

You can also get them from Ebay. However, be careful here. These are overseas sellers and some of those countries have very poor regulations. It doesn’t mean their products will be faulty, just make sure you check their reviews.

The other thing about Ebay is you will need to know exactly what you want and how to place them into your denture.

I hope this helped.

This blog is brought to you by Libertyville Dentist Dr. David Potts.

Bad Breath with Dental Implants

My husband was in an accident which caused him to lose a tooth. He chose to replace it with a dental implant because he wanted the best replacement possible. He’s in a very public job and appearance is important. About a month after he had the implant done I started noticing his breathtaking a turn for the worse. He’s very diligent with his oral care so I thought maybe it was just a one-day thing, but it’s been a week and it’s getting steadily worse. Is this normal with dental implants or should I bring it up with him? I only want to bring it up if there’s something he can do about it. I don’t want to make him self-conscious.


Dear Kelly,

Dental Implant Diagram

You sound like a loving wife. I’m glad you noticed this about your husband’s breath because this is not a normal side-effect of getting dental implants.

If you are certain nothing has changed with his oral hygiene habits then he may be looking at the beginning of an infection. If it’s not dealt with quickly, he could be looking at dental implant failure and having to start completely over on the procedure.

You could start out by asking him how the implant has been feeling. This way you’re not bringing up his breath. He may mention that it feels weird or he has a bad taste in his mouth. In that case, you can tell him to see his implant dentist in order to have it looked at.

If there is an infection and he loses the implant, starting over will require an additional procedure of bone grafting to get it done. Make sure he stays on top of this.

Dental Implants and Teeth Whitening

I’m only mentioning this part because you said your husband has a very public job and his appearance is important. If he plans on whitening his teeth, make sure he does it before it is time to make his implant crown. That way, he can have the porcelain crown made to match is whiter teeth.

Once the crown is done, the color won’t change, not even with professional teeth whitening. He’s likely a very busy man with his job, so let him know with Zoom Whitening it can be done in just one appointment.

This blog is brought to you by Libertyville Dentist Dr. David Potts.

Protecting Yourself from Dental Implant Disaster

I read a story about this poor woman who’d suffered severe damage to her jaw and health because of dental implants by a doctor called Dr. Mansueto. Is there a way to protect yourself from that type of issue?


Dear Alan,

Dental Implant Diagram

I know the case you’re referring to. First, I’ll say there were quite of few red flags in connection with this particular case. Though, a patient is never to blame in those cases. It’s quite natural to trust your caregiver.

Red Flag: He Met Patients at His Home

Professionals won’t meet patients at their home. They’d have you come into an office setting. In this case, he wasn’t even a dentist. He’d lost his license some time ago. You should be aware there are websites in which you can check whether or not someone is currently licensed. You can also find out if they’ve had any actions taken against them.

Red Flag: He Left the Country for Procedures

He also convinced patients to go over the border to get their surgical procedure done. I can only guess he convinced them to go by telling them it was to save expensive American fees. Reputable dentists discourage what is known as “dental tourism”. They don’t do that in order to keep patients, but rather to protect them.

For instance, Mexico has no regulations for things like sterilization of equipment. It’s completely at the discretion of the dentist. And what recourse do you have if you develop an infection from non-sterilized equipment? Absolutely none.

Staying Safe with Dental Implants

The most important decision you make is in choosing the dentist to do your dental implants. You want to make sure the dentist has taken extensive training in implants post dental school. It’s also very helpful if you find a dentist experienced in the surgical part of the procedure and not just the restoration. A lot of miscommunication happens when you have two separate professionals working on your implant case. But, if your dentist can do the surgery as well, you reduce that risk.

Another thing to do is check their reviews. Have previous patients had a good experience with the dentist? Was he pleasant to work with?

It never hurts to ask to see samples of their work. It won’t be that much fun having a newly restored tooth if the dentist is terrible at the cosmetic side of things. You want to know that he can make a porcelain crown which looks natural and blends in perfectly with your other teeth.

Update Your Smile Simultaneously as Dental Implants

Whenever you have dental work done where you’ll be getting some type of restoration, it’s a good time to think about whether or not you’ll want teeth whitening. The restoration’s color is permanent once it’s finished. Teeth whitening only works on natural tooth structure. If you’ll want a whiter smile, do it before you have the implant crown made. That way it can be made to match your more youthful looking smile.

This blog is brought to you by Libertyville Cosmetic Dentist Dr. David Potts.

Safest Way to Travel for Dental Implants?

I need to travel for dental implants because I live in a remote area. There are dentists here, but they’d send me to the city for an oral surgeon. That’s two hours away. So, I figured if I have to travel I might as well find the best implant dentist I can, even if it means longer travel. I know not to do dental tourism. That’s not what I’m talking about. I plan on staying in the United States. I just need to know what to do to give this type of thing its best shot.


Dear Michelle,

Dental Implant Diagram

It’s great that you’re planning ahead. That will be one of the keys to your successful outcome. I’m also glad to hear you’re not doing dental tourism. I could tell you about a recent case a colleague of mine saw. A woman flew to Mexico. She said flying there three times was cheaper than getting the work done locally. Unfortunately, when she came into our office, the whole right side of her face was swollen from a massive infection. On top of that the implant itself was loose and cracked. She’d gone back to the original dentist who said he did everything correctly and there’s nothing else which he could do for her and sent her on the way. He didn’t even give her an antibiotic.

Your situation is different. And, yes, if you’re going to have to travel anyway, you might as well try to get the best implant dentist possible.

Choose Your Implant Dentist Carefully

You’ll want a dentist who has extensive training post dental school. Here are some reputable places where they can get training:

  • Las Vegas Institute for Advanced Dental Studies (LVI)
  • Midwest Implant Institute
  • Pankey Institute
  • Kois Center
  • Dawson Academy

There are others, but these are among the best.

In addition to this training, you want the dentist to have the correct surgical training as well. There’s less chance of error or miscommunication if the surgeon and implant dentist is the same person.

Meet with the Implant Dentist for an Extensive Consultation Ahead of Time

The dentist needs to know that you will be traveling. One of the issues which needs to be discussed is the emergency protocol he’d prefer in your situation. If something is going on, will he do a skype call to evaluate you or will he want you to come to his office?

Budget Carefully for Your Dental Implant Appointments

There are quite a few appointments necessary when it comes to dental implants. You could expect around six appointments, such as the consultation, surgery, post-op checks, healing checks, impression appointments, and placement appointments. What you don’t want is to get partway through your appointments and run out of money for travel.

Consider You’re Having Surgery

You won’t be able to travel home immediately after your surgery. Ideally, it would be nice if you were able to find a qualified implant dentist in an area where you have a friend or relative you could stay with for a couple of days after the surgery. If that’s not possible, just have someone come with you for the actual surgery, who can stay with you until the next day and then help you get home.

This blog is brought to you by Dr. David Potts.

Should I Switch Implant Dentists in the Middle of Procedure?

I’m nervous I picked the wrong dentist to do my dental implants. I have two anterior teeth he’s replacing. The surgery is complete and I’m waiting for the healing. He did a Maryland Bridge so I’d have teeth in the meantime. Unfortunately, the bridge has failed three times. He’s replaced it free every time, but he’s got me worried. If he can’t handle the bridge, what about the implants? My understanding is if the implant fails, he can’t just do it over. Is that right? Is it safe to switch dentists in the middle of the procedure?


Dear Meagan,

Dental Implant Diagram

You’re right about a lot of things here. We’ll start with your correct assumption that if the implant fails he can’t just re-do it. If you look at the image of the dental implant directly above, you see how important it is to have bone integrated with the implant. That’s what keeps it secure in your jaw. Now, let us suppose your dentist doesn’t get the procedure correct and your dental implant fails. It’s going to take bone with it.

In order to replace the dental implant, you’ll need to have bone grafting done to build bone up in the area and secure it after the replacement surgery.

Temporary Teeth During Dental Implant Healing

A drawing of a Maryland Bridge
A Maryland Bridge

Your dentist did a Maryland Bridge. Most dentists would have done a dental flipper for your temporary replacement. Additionally, it doesn’t sound like he knows how to place a Maryland Bridge. This is a false tooth attached to two wings which can be etched and bonded into your adjacent teeth.

This procedure is much less advanced than dental implants and he doesn’t seem capable of getting it right. I have close to zero confidence he will get your dental implants correct.

You are perfectly within your rights to switch dentists at this point. Truthfully, you don’t even have to have a real reason. You can just simply not like that dentist. Either way, he is ethically bound to pass on all the records for your treatment to whichever dentist you choose next.

Who Should Do Your Dental Implant Procedure?

This isn’t something you want to trust to your average family dentist. There isn’t a specialty in dental implants, which makes sense because it’s one procedure. But, it does require specialized training. You want a dentist who’s invested a significant amount of time in post-graduate training. Ideally, including the surgical process and the cosmetic considerations of the restoration. Your chances of a successful outcome go up when the same dentist does the surgery and restoration.

To give you an example of what level of training you want, Dr. Potts did a three-year externship at the Midwest Implant Institute. No dentist should mind you asking what type of post-graduate training the have. If they act offended, they’re not the dentist for you. It probably means they don’t have the right training.

Considerations When Replacing Visible Teeth

Any restoration done is permanent. While something like teeth whitening will work on natural tooth structure, it won’t work on any dental restorations. However, if you whiten your teeth ahead of time, they can make the restoration to match the new, healthier looking color.

This blog is brought to you by Dr. David Potts.

Dental Implants Turning My Gums Gray

I’m worried that something is wrong with my dental implants. They feel okay, but the area around the gums on my front tooth is turning gray. Is it possible that I’m developing an infection? Is the implant contaminated? What do I do?


Dear Laurie,

An illustration of dental implants in three stages with the crown being placed on

First, let me say I don’t think you have an infection. An infection would be accompanied by pain, fever, and possibly some oozing at the implant site. Sounds lovely, right? It’s more likely you have thin gum tissue and the titanium root form is making the gum tissue look graying.

One of the considerations an implant dentist will make is the depth of the gum tissue, especially on the front teeth. If the tissue is unusually thin and would be visible no matter where the placement, today we have other options. Instead of using a titanium implant, he should have used a zirconia implant. Either way, whether it be not considering your depth of tissue or just poor placement, the dentist didn’t do the job as well as he could have.

When You’re Unhappy with Your Dental Implant

Unfortunately, the only way to fix this is to re-do the procedure completely. Once you remove the implant, you will lose some of the supporting bone structure. So in order to place a second implant, it would require some bone grafting.

You could show your dentist how the implant is visible through the gum. Hopefully, he’ll care enough to do something about it. If he doesn’t, you basically have three options:

1. Find another way to get a refund. The best path for that is to get a second opinion from a highly skilled implant dentist. You want someone who’s completed extensive post-graduate study in implantology. For instance, after dental school, Dr. Potts completed a three-year externship at the Midwest Implant Institute, including courses in surgery, prosthetics, and bone grafting.

It may be that your implant wasn’t properly placed. In that case, your second opinion dentist could work with you to get a refund because it will affect the functionality. Unfortunately, if the dental implant is well functioning, it won’t be easy to get a refund. A dental board doesn’t consider ugly work as a reason for a refund.

2. Your second option is to just live with the darkening around the implant. I know. You probably didn’t even want that listed as an option.

3. Pay for the new implant yourself. I wish I had better news for you. I know it’s frustrating to pay all that money and not be happy with the results.

This blog is brought to you by Dr. David Potts.

Do Titanium Dental Implants Cause Neurological Problems?

I’m going to get two dental implants. I was just going to get the regular titanium ones, but my mom just told me that Dick Van Dyke had horrible neurological problems from them. Should I get the Zirconia ones instead?

Pam M.

Dear Pam,

Dental Implant Diagram

I’ve seen an article or two about that, mostly from natural news types of websites. I haven’t seen any medical documentation on Mr. VanDykes case. I don’t know his medical history. And, of course, the journalists wouldn’t have had access to that because of privacy rights. If he had metal sensitivities, it’s slightly possible they could have caused some of his pain. Though, titanium rarely causes problems with allergies. It’s a very bio-compatible metal which has been used for decades, not just in dental implants but as rods throughout the body.

IF it was the implants causing his headaches, the more likely scenario isn’t the titanium as much as placement. Maybe whoever did the surgery affected a nearby nerve. That could cause referred headache pain, as well as other issues.

Zirconia implants may likely be fine. The only issue is they’re fairly new in the dental implants procedure so there’s not much of a track record on them. That doesn’t mean they’re not as good, just they haven’t been used as long so we don’t know yet.

Who Should Do Your Dental Implants?

First, You’ll want a dentist with extensive post-graduate training. For instance, Dr. Potts completed a three-year externship at the Midwest Implant Institute, including courses in surgery, prosthetics, and bone grafting. He could do every aspect of the treatment.

Second, you’ll want someone who keeps up with his field. Here Dr. Potts is also a good example. He does over six times the number of hours his state requires for dentists to do in continuing education.

Third, be certain to ask the dentist how many dental implant procedures he or she has done as well as the percent of successful procedures. You don’t want an inexperienced dentist doing such an advanced procedure.

Some Cosmetic Considerations with Dental Implants

You mentioned you were looking at two dental implants but didn’t mention where they were being placed. If they’re visible teeth, especially front teeth, I want you to think ahead about two things as part of your procedure.

You’ll want the dental implant crown to look beautiful and blend in naturally with the remainder of your surrounding teeth. Check out the dentist’s smile gallery to make sure he does good cosmetic work.

If you’ve thought about getting your teeth whitened at some point (and many people do), you’ll want to have it done before your implant crowns are made. Dental work doesn’t whiten. The color it’s created with is permanent. So, if you whiten your teeth ahead of time, they can be made to match your brilliant new color.

This blog is brought to you by Dr. David Potts.

Why Can’t I Keep a Dental Implant?

I don’t know what to do. I’m on my third dental implant at the same spot and my dentist said he’ll only give it one more chance. I want to get it right this time. Here’s what’s going on and maybe you can tell me what I’m doing wrong. I certainly can’t figure it out. I had a dental implant placed. It snaped off after three days. I didn’t eat anything hard with it because I was kind of babying it and working my way up to harder things. The dentist offered to replace it for free but I needed bone grafting in order to have it placed. I did that. Then after the next implant procedure was done and waiting period over, I got the next crown. A month later it broke off. I was even more careful the second time but it still didn’t stick. What do I do? I’m just about to have the next bone grafting done.

Angela F.

Dear Angela,

Dental Implant Diagram

I’m going to tell you up front you are definitely not the problem. I’m very sorry your dentist is putting you through this. There are some general reasons for dental implant failure:

  • Infection
  • Premature placement
  • Cheap implants
  • Improper Placement

Infection is the most common. Smokers are at the highest risk for this. You’d know if you had an infection so don’t worry about this one. The next option is premature placement. That’s when your dentist doesn’t give the implant enough time to integrate and build up bone structure around it. I don’t think this is your problem. This generally manifests by the implant coming loose and falling out. That’s not what yours is doing.

The most likely scenario for you is your dentist is using cheap implants. This is an example of when cheap doesn’t equate with affordable. A dental implant structure made in the United States will cost a dentist several hundred dollars. But, a dentist can get one made elsewhere for a few dollars. When they’re not properly made, they snap. Though, another reason for them to snap is improper placement. Either one is your dentist’s fault.

How to Get a Succesful Dental Implant

Your dentist should have clued in to what was going on after the first failure. Because he didn’t, I’m concerned. I don’t think it will matter if you have him do it another time. He won’t get it right. You’re best bet is to ask him for a full refund. He should give it to you. If he doesn’t, there are any number of qualified implant dentists that will back you up if you go to them for a second opinion.

I want you to look for a dentist with significant post-graduate implant training. For instance, Dr. Potts spent three years doing an internship at an implant institute. Have a dentist like that replace your implant for you, you’ll likely find you have a much better experience.

This blog is brought to you by Dr. David Potts.