Frequently Asked Questions

What are the differences between a full denture, partial denture (“partial”), and a bridge?

A full denture is a removable prosthetic that replaces all the teeth in the upper or lower jaw. Usually these prostheses are supported only by the soft tissues and underlying bone. A partial denture is a removable appliance that replaces only some of the teeth in the dental arch. Typically, clasps on the partial denture serve to hold the partial denture in place by “clasping” one or more the remaining teeth.   A bridge is a prosthetic used to replace one or two missing teeth and is cemented or fixed in the mouth.   Placing a bridge requires precise preparation of the adjacent supporting teeth.   Bridges can provide similar functional capability to natural teeth, while removable dentures provide only a fraction of the functional capability of having a complete set of natural healthy teeth.

What is a dental implant?

Dental implants have become the “gold standard” method of replacing missing teeth. A dental implant is a titanium cylinder that is placed into the bone where a tooth or teeth are missing.   A dental implant can be used to replace a single tooth or multiple implants can be utilized to support a much larger prosthetic. Patients who utilize multiple implants to support dentures find that they have much more comfort and function than those who wear dentures without implant support. Not all patients are candidates for implants. If you have an interest in dental implants, give us a call to set up a consultation appointment.

If baby teeth will be lost anyway, why do they need to be fixed if they have decay?

While it is true that baby teeth (primary teeth) will be completely lost as children reach adolescence, baby teeth serve vital functions for children and saving baby teeth rather than pulling them early has great benefits. Saving children’s teeth will allow for better chewing of food. Front teeth help in the development of speech, and back teeth help to maintain the proper space for the permanent teeth that will replace them. If baby teeth are pulled early, shifting of the teeth may occur and hinder the proper eruption of the permanent teeth. If a baby tooth must be pulled early an appliance is usually recommended to prevent movement of teeth and allow the permanent tooth adequate room to come in where the baby tooth was lost.


 Why do I need to have radiographs (x-rays) on a regular basis?

A dental examination without x-rays gives the dentist only a partial view of the patient’s oral condition. A clinical exam will allow the dentist to detect decay only on the chewing, cheek and tongue surfaces of the teeth. X-rays allow a dentist to “see” the surfaces between the teeth where tooth decay is very common.   When decay that starts between teeth becomes visible in the mouth, usually the decay is so large that extensive treatment will be needed to fix the problem. X-rays give information to the dentist concerning the health of the pulp (nerves) of teeth, the gum health (by showing bone levels) and can show any abnormal tissues/cysts/impacted teeth in the jaws. While x-rays are usually not performed at every regular exam, most patients need intraoral x-rays yearly to assess any developing problems.

I have no pain but was told that I have several cavities…. If I have cavities wouldn’t I feel them?

Usually tooth decay (“cavities”) do not cause any symptoms until they have become large and involve the pulp (nerve). In most cases when cavities become so large that the tooth hurts, more extensive treatment such as root canals and/or crowns will be needed to fix the tooth rather than a “filling.” This is why regular exams are so important—to find problems when they are small. Small problems usually require simple solutions. More advanced problems require more complex, more costly treatment.