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Dental Associates of Northern Virginia - Pinecrest
4604-D Pinecrest Office Park Dr, Alexandria, VA 22312

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Are Dental Implants Right for You?

Are Dental Implants a Good Choice for Me?

The CDC reports that more than half of adults who are 64 years old and younger have lost at least one permanent tooth, and about one-fifth of those who are 65 or older have lost all of their teeth. This is a serious health issue since your teeth are an important part of your overall good health.

If you’re missing one or more teeth, then dental implants may be the solution for you, regardless of whether you lost your teeth due to trauma or decay. Your dentist will help you determine if implants are right for you based on the following factors:

  • Your overall health
  • If you have healthy gums
  • If you have sufficient bone in your jaw

If all of these things are good, then your dentist may recommend implants.

What’s Meant by Dental Implants?

A dental implant is an artificial tooth that’s permanently installed into your jawbone, and it looks, functions, and feels like your natural tooth. Implants are popular among those who dislike the idea of dentures or bridges and who want to maintain good oral and bone health. Two types of implants are commonly used:

  • Endosteal implants that are installed in the jawbone
  • Subperiosteal implants that are installed beneath the gum tissue

A dental implant is comprised of three parts:

  1. The body: The body of your implant is a lightweight titanium post that is very strong and has a very low rejection rate, so your body should accept it without any issue. TThe post is surgically inserted into your jawbone and will serve as the root of your artificial tooth.
  2. The abutment: This connector anchors your tooth to the post and is installed after the post has fused to your jawbone (a process is known as osseointegration).
  3. The crown: This is the visible part of the artificial tooth and is sometimes referred to as a prosthesis. It’s the last step of the installation process.

How Will Implants Help My Dental Issues?

If you have a diseased or damaged tooth, an implant can restore the functionality and integrity of the area so that you don’t experience further damage or decay. The titanium post functions like the root of your natural tooth and will fuse to your jawbone. The strength of titanium enables the post to be used for a single tooth or a series of them that form a bridge. The abutment is attached to the post, and then the crown is attached to the abutment. Implants are permanent installations that don’t need to be removed for cleaning and maintenance and they’re as functional and comfortable as your natural teeth. Implant installation is one of the safest dental procedures available.

What Happens During the Implant Procedure?

Implant surgery is an outpatient procedure that typically spans a number of office visits and several months. The general steps in the process are:

  • Removal of the damaged teeth or tooth during your initial appointment and preparing the site for the surgery
  • Other procedures that may be necessary to ensure a good outcome
  • A bone graft if it’s needed
  • Installation of the body, which is the titanium post
  • Healing and growth time for the jawbone
  • Placement of your abutment
  • Installation of your crown or crowns

The overall length of time needed for your procedure will depend on how fast your body heals, as well as the amount of work that’s needed.

Will I Need a Bone Graft?

If you have a strong jawbone, then you may not need a bone graft. However, if your bone is weak or has deteriorated, you may need one. Your oral surgeon will make the determination during your initial visit. Sometimes, a bone graft can be performed during the surgery, but extensive grafts may require a separate procedure that spans several months.

How Is the Implant Placed?

Your oral surgeon will make an incision in the gum and expose the jawbone. After drilling a hole in the bone, they’ll install the post and the abutment if that procedure is being used, and then suture the incision closed. After several months, the jawbone will have fused to the implant through a process known as osseointegration and you’ll be ready to receive the abutment if it wasn’t placed when the implant was installed.

How Is the Abutment Placed?

Your oral surgeon will make another incision to expose the post and then place the abutment on it. This is an outpatient procedure and you’ll be given a local anesthetic. Within about two weeks, your incision should have healed sufficiently to receive the crown.

How Is the Crown Placed?

When your gums have healed, you’ll return to the office and we’ll make impressions of your teeth and gums. This is the mold that will be used to fabricate your crown. If you’ve opted for removable crowns, you’ll receive artificial teeth that are affixed to pink plastic gums. If you’ve opted for permanently installed crowns, they’ll be permanently affixed to the abutment.

Are There Aftercare Instructions?

As with all dental surgery procedures, you can expect to have minor bleeding, swelling, pain, and bruising at the site. Your oral surgeon will provide you with aftercare instructions and prescribe medication to ease your discomfort.

What Are the Benefits and Drawbacks of Implants?

Dental implants are probably the easiest artificial teeth to care for. They function and look like your natural teeth and require the same good oral hygiene practices to ensure their longevity. There are no messy adhesives or powders and you never need to remove them for cleaning. With proper care, implants can last a lifetime. They’re as comfortable as your original teeth and provide the same natural appearance, ease of eating, and ability to speak clearly.

However, the primary drawback to implants is their cost, which can be substantial, particularly if you need one or more bone grafts. Insurance plans don’t always cover the cost of implants, so you may have several thousand dollars in dental bills for each implant. Most oral surgeons provide payment options for their patients who need implants, so this can help make them more affordable.

Although they’re very durable, a crown may need to be replaced, which can be expensive and may not be covered by insurance. The entire procedure is quite lengthy, so it may not appeal to those who are short on time or patience.

Lastly, implant surgery is still surgery and therefore carries risks, such as an adverse reaction to the anesthetic, damage to the surrounding teeth, jawbone fracture, nerve damage, and infections. For some people, surgery isn’t a practical alternative.

Can My Local Dentist Install Implants?

Most general dentists aren’t trained in implant surgery. It requires special education and training to assess the viability of the procedure for each patient, as well as perform the procedure correctly. If you’re interested in implant surgery, look for a board-certified surgeon who has the necessary training and education to perform the procedure. Don’t be shy about asking questions; a reputable surgeon will be happy to provide you with a list of their implant qualifications.

If you want dental implants, please call our office to make an appointment or schedule it online. We strive to provide the highest quality, affordable dental procedures we can, so contact us today.

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Dental Associates of Northern Virginia - Pinecrest

4604-D Pinecrest Office Park Dr, Alexandria, VA 22312

(703) 940-1886