Frequently Asked Questions

At Annie C. Wilson Prosthodontics, we're committed to educating our patients, so that you can take an active role in your dental care. Below are answers to some of the questions we are asked most frequently. You can find more information about prosthodontics at gotoapro.org, the official website for the American College of Prosthodontists. If you have additional questions, please contact us.

UNDERSTANDING PROSTHODONTICS

What is prosthodontics?

Prosthodontics is the dental specialty pertaining to the diagnosis, treatment planning, rehabilitation and maintenance of the oral function, comfort, appearance and health of patients with clinical conditions associated with missing or deficient teeth and/or oral and maxillofacial tissues using biocompatible substitutes. Contact Arlington prosthodontist Annie C. Wilson, DDS, for more information.

What type of work does a prosthodontist do?

A prosthodontist is a specialized dentist with advanced training in the field of prosthodontics, who performs complex aesthetic restoration and tooth replacement procedures. In addition to dental school, prosthodontists complete three years of specialized training in an American Dental Association-accredited graduate program. This advanced education includes clinical and lab experience, scholarly research, and additional courses, to gain proficiency in comprehensive oral health diagnosis, treatment planning and restoration. Prosthodontists can improve the appearance, health, and function of your teeth.

Why should I see a prosthodontist?

A prosthodontist's specialized training can help ensure that you receive the highest quality of care for advanced dental problems, by working with your general dentist to create a custom treatment plan. If you have missing teeth, you wear full or partial dentures, you are interested in dental implants, or wish to improve the appearance of your smile, you may want to consider seeing a prosthodontist.

How is a prosthodontist's training different from that of a general dentist?

Prosthodontists train for three years beyond dental school, focusing on procedures that include dental implants, veneers, crowns, bridges, TMD-jaw joint problems, dentures and complex cases. Their training specializes in restoration and replacement of teeth, with emphasis on smile dynamics, oral health, and the creation of replacement teeth. Prosthodontists also serve as the orchestrators of dental treatment plans, working with general dentists, surgeons, and other health professionals to create comprehensive solutions for patients. Those who benefit from prosthodontic treatment include patients with congenital defects, traumatic injuries to the mouth's structure and/or teeth, snoring or sleep disorders, oral cancer, and other complex dental problems.

What is a dental specialist, and what credentials do prosthodontists have?

A dental specialist is a dentist who has been trained in an area of dentistry that is formally recognized by, and meets the requirements of, the American Dental Association. Dental specialists undergo post-graduate training in their field of specialty, beyond dental school. Prosthodontists earn either a Doctor of Dental Surgery (D.D.S.) or a Doctor of Dental Medicine (D.M.D.) upon graduation from dental school, and then go on to complete an American Dental Association-accredited advanced training program leading to a certificate in prosthodontics. Prosthodontists may choose to earn a Master of Science degree as well, which requires completion of an original research project, preparation and defense of a thesis and a comprehensive examination in prosthodontics.

What makes a prosthodontist's lab work different from that of a general dentist, and why are the lab fees so high?

Selecting high quality labs is essential to ensuring the very best results when it comes to your smile's function and appearance. With advanced experience in laboratory work, your prosthodontist may have higher expectations for quality and precision than those required by other professionals. A number of lower-end labs exist in the U.S., and some dentists use labs in developing countries, which may lead to low-quality work, and the use of questionable materials. At Annie C. Wilson Prosthodontics, we believe that cheap labs lead to cheap results. That is why we only work with the most reputable labs — and it's also why our lab fees may be higher than those charged by a general dentist, due to higher quality materials, experience, and attention to detail.

QUESTIONS ABOUT DENTURES

I would like dentures made. How do I get started, and what type of dentures should I get?

Considering dentures? Arlington prosthodontist Annie C. Wilson, DDS, can work with you and your dentist to help decide whether dentures are the best solution, and if so, make recommendations as to the types of dentures needed. Complete dentures replace all teeth, and rest on the gums, covering the jawbones. They may be attached to dental implants for greater stability. Partial dentures also rest on the gums and cover jawbones of missing teeth, but only replace some teeth. They attach to those teeth that are still present.

Can I eat normally with dentures?

Yes, but it will take time to become accustomed to using your dentures, and some hard or sticky foods may be more difficult to eat. Denture adhesive can help hold your dentures in place, and make it easier to learn how to use them properly.

Can I get dentures on the same day my teeth are extracted?

Yes, but we will need to discuss whether or not this treatment, called “immediate dentures,” is best for you.

How do I know when I need to have my dentures relined?

A reline procedure adjusts the fit of the base of your dentures, so they fit more tightly. If your dentures don't fit as well as they previously did, it may be time to schedule a reline. Annie C. Wilson Prosthodontics can work with your general dentist to determine whether this procedure might be right for you, and ensure an ideal fit.

QUESTIONS ABOUT DENTAL IMPLANTS

What is a dental implant?

A dental implant is a titanium structure surgically placed in the jawbone to replace the roots of missing teeth, and support crowns, bridges and dentures. Dental implants look, feel, and work like natural teeth. Arlington dental implant specialist Annie C. Wilson, DDS, can help create a plan for treatment, if dental implants are the best solution for your smile.

How successful are dental implants, and how long do they last?

Health and habits make a difference, but dental implants enjoy survival rates above 90-95 percent for healthy patients with good oral hygiene. Long-term success of your implants requires your participation as well as that of your dentist, including careful home care, regular cleanings and check-ups. While dental implants will not suffer from decay or dental disease like natural teeth, maintaining gum health is essential.

How do I know if dental implants are right for me?

Dental implants may be the best choice for you if you are missing one or more teeth. Benefits include a long history of success, and the ability to enjoy a tooth replacement that looks and feels natural, as implants are fixed solidly in the bone. Drawbacks include a small amount of discomfort during surgical procedures, and the period of time it takes for your implant to heal, which may be several months. Additionally, implants are more costly than some other options, because they require surgery as well as the creation of a replacement tooth.

My dental implants have been infected. Can they be removed safely?

Yes, it is possible to safely remove implants. It may be necessary to place a bone graft in the prior location of the implant. Consult a prosthodontist, periodontist or oral surgeon, as this is a specialty procedure.

Can my dentures be transformed into implants?

No. Dental implants are the metal screws that anchor artificial teeth to the jawbone. While they can be placed beneath existing dentures to improve stabilization, this procedure should only be performed for recently made dentures in very good condition. Discuss this possible option with the professional who made your dentures.

What does “all on four” mean?

“All on four” is a phrase dental professionals use to refer to the procedure wherein all teeth are replaced in one jaw using four or more implants. A denture is then permanently attached to these implants.

UNDERSTANDING ORAL CANCER

What is cancer?

Cancer is disease caused by an uncontrolled division of abnormal cells in the body, and may include abnormal growths or malignant tumors that destroy healthy tissues and spread to other parts of the body.

What is oral cancer?

Oral cancer is cancer of the mouth or oral cavity, and can occur in the floor of the mouth and tongue, the upper or lower jaw, lips, gums and cheek lining. Oropharygeal cancer occurs in the tonsils, throat tissue, and the back of the tongue.

What are the risk factors for oral cancer, and how can you prevent it?

Tobacco and heavy alcohol use, as well as human papilloma virus (HPV) infection can increase your risk for oral cancer. To aid in early detection and prevention, The American Cancer Society recommends an annual comprehensive oral evaluation and soft tissue exam. Prosthodontists are trained to perform these screenings, which are painless.

What are the symptoms of oral cancer?

  • White or red or white patches in the mouth or behind the mouth
  • Ulcers or sores in the mouth that bleed easily and don't heal
  • Lump in the neck, throat or floor of the mouth
  • Discomfort or difficulty in swallowing
  • Painful or tender teeth or gums
  • Noticeable change in denture fit
  • Change in mouth tissue
  • Pain, discomfort, numbness or other unpleasant sensations
  • Reduced ability to open jaw, chew or swallow normally
  • Swelling or fullness in neck

SMILE RESTORATION

What are my options for restoring teeth or replacing missing teeth?

Depending on your dental health and the recommendations of your prosthodontist, your options include implants, permanent bridges, and full or partial dentures for replacement of missing teeth. Arlington Prosthodontist Annie C. Wilson, DDS, is specially trained to select the best method, and blend replaced or restored teeth with your natural teeth for the best aesthetics and functionality.

Can a prosthodontist fix broken, discolored or misshapen teeth?

Yes. Crowns, caps, teeth whitening and veneers are among the options available to improve the appearance of your smile.

What can you do to help brighten my smile?

Annie C. Wilson, Prosthodontics can provide an examination and diagnosis to determine whether home whitening might be right for you. This procedure can lighten discolored enamel and improve your smile.

What are dental veneers?

A dental veneer is a thin layer of restorative material, such as porcelain, permanently bonded to the front of the tooth surface in order to improve the aesthetics of a tooth, or protect a damaged tooth surface. Veneers can improve the alignment, color and shape of your teeth.

What is a crown?

A crown is an artificial replacement or covering for the upper part of a tooth, made to look, feel, and function like a natural tooth. Crowns are used for teeth that have experienced moderate to severe destruction, such as a large filling with recurrent decay or extensive wear.

My finances are limited. Will Medicare pay for your services?

Medicare does not cover dental procedures. However, you may be able to find low-cost care at a dental school in your area.