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Dental Associates of Northern Virginia - City of Falls Church
510 N. Washington St, Suite 301, Falls Church, VA 22046

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Are Dental Implants Right for You?

Will I Have a Better Smile with Dental Implants?

If you’re embarrassed about your smile because you have missing or damaged teeth, then dental implants can restore your beautiful smile. You’re not alone: the CDC reports that more than half of adults who are younger than 64 are missing at least one permanent tooth. Of those who are 65 or older, almost 20 percent are missing all of their teeth.

Your teeth are an integral part of your overall health so, if you’re among these statistics, dental implants can help to restore your oral health. Your oral surgeon will evaluate your general physical health, gum health, and the strength of your jawbone. If all of these are good, then you’re likely a candidate for dental implants. Lack of bone isn’t always a problem because a bone graft can usually be done. Two types of implants are available:

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

What Are Dental Implants?

A dental implant consists of three parts:

  1. The body: The body, also called the post, of your implant is made of lightweight titanium that’s strong enough to hold a single tooth or several that have been bridged together. Titanium is easily accepted by your body, so the post will fuse to the bone during a process known as osseointegration. The post is surgically implanted into your jawbone and functions the same as the root of a natural tooth.
  2. The abutment: This connector anchors your crown to the post and is installed after osseointegration is complete. Although some patients opt to have the abutment installed during the body installation, most have it installed in a separate procedure.
  3. The crown: This is the visible part of the implant and is called a prosthesis. It’s the last step of the installation process.

Do Dental Implants Work Like Dentures?

Implants work differently than dentures because they’re permanently installed, so you can’t remove them. Implants are cared for through regular brushing, flossing, and regular dental checkups just like your natural teeth. The post functions the same as the root of a natural tooth, the abutment functions similar to your gums, and the crown works like your natural teeth. Implants don’t impede your speech like dentures can, and they won’t slip or fall out because they’re permanently implanted into your jaw.

What Will Happen When I Have Implants Installed?

Although each patient’s procedure is unique, when you come in for dental implant surgery, you can expect the following general steps:

  • Removing damaged teeth and performing any other procedures that may be necessary for an optimal outcome
  • A bone graft may be needed at this point, or possibly later
  • Prepping the site for surgery
  • Installation of the body, which is the titanium post, and performing a minor bone graft, if necessary
  • Allowing for growth and healing time for the jawbone, which can take weeks or months, depending on the procedures performed
  • Installation of the abutment
  • Making impressions of your teeth and gums for fabrication of the crowns
  • Permanently attaching the crowns

The timeframe required for your implant installation will depend on the rate at which your body heals and the total number of procedures performed.

How Will I Know If I Need a Bone Graft?

If your jawbone is strong, you likely won’t need a bone graft, but your surgeon will examine your jaw and make that decision. If you need a minor graft, it can be done simultaneously with the post installation, but if more extensive grafting is required, that will be a separate procedure. We can take bone from other parts of your body or use a bone substitute.

What’s the Implant Installation Procedure?

When you come in for your initial implant surgery, your surgeon will make an incision in your gum to expose the jawbone, drill a hole in the bone, implant the post into the hole, and suture the incision. Then osseointegration will begin, fusing the post to the bone, which usually takes a few months.

What’s the Abutment Installation Procedure?

After osseointegration is complete, you’ll have another outpatient procedure where you’ll receive a local anesthetic. We’ll make another incision near the post and place the abutment. After your gums have healed, which usually takes about two weeks, you’ll return and we’ll make impressions of your teeth and gums. These will be used to fabricate your crowns.

What’s the Crown Installation Procedure?

When we receive your crowns, you’ll return for installation. If you’ve opted for removable crowns, you’ll receive them in pink plastic gums that will snap onto your abutment, and are easily removed for cleaning. If you’re getting fixed crowns, we’ll check them for a comfortable fit and then attach them permanently to the post.

What Will I Need to Do After the Surgery?

Your surgeon will provide you with tips on pain management as well as methods for alleviating any minor bleeding, swelling, bruising, and discomfort that are common occurrences after a dental procedure. Your symptoms should abate within a few days, but if they don’t, call us promptly.

What Drawbacks Do Implants Have?

As with all dental procedures, there are drawbacks to dental implants. The primary drawback is the hefty price tag. Dental implants are expensive and one tooth can cost thousands of dollars. The cost may not be covered by dental insurance and if you need a replacement crown in the future, it may not be covered. Implants are also surgical procedures, so they have inherent risks, such as an adverse reaction to the anesthesia, collateral damage to the surrounding area, infections, and nerve damage.

But, most people who have implants feel that the advantages far outweigh the drawbacks. Implants look, feel, and function like your natural teeth and they won’t embarrass you by falling out or slipping. There’s no speech impairment like there can be with dentures, and your implants won’t need to be replaced due to normal wear and tear or because of breakage. There are no messy adhesives or liquids needed, just the same good oral hygiene that you use for your natural teeth. Plus, you’ll always have a full set of teeth in your mouth. When the total costs are factored in, many people find that implants are more cost effective over the long term than their less-convenient alternatives.

Can My General Dentist Install My Implants?

Being able to properly install dental implants requires a considerable investment in education, training, and experience, which most general dentists don’t have. If you’re searching for an oral surgeon to install implants, make sure that they’re board-certified and willing to provide you with a list of their qualifications. If they aren’t, then continue your search.

If you want to have implants installed or if you need another dental procedure, then call our office for an appointment or schedule online using our convenient booking tool. Either way, contact us today and we’ll get started on restoring your good oral health.

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Dental Associates of Northern Virginia - City of Falls Church

510 N. Washington St, Suite 301, Falls Church, VA 22046

(703) 988-6938