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Ballston Dental Arts
900 N Taylor Street, Suite 150, Arlington, VA 22203

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Are Dental Implants Right for You?

Are You a Good Candidate for Dental Implants?

If you’re among the nearly two-thirds of adults under 65 who, according to the CDC, have lost one or more teeth, then dental implants may be the solution for you. If you’re one of the nearly one-fifth of adults over 65 who have lost all of their teeth, then you should consider dental implants. Your local dentist can help you determine the viability of this procedure for you and will consider the following factors when determining your suitability for implants:

  • Your overall health
  • Your oral health, especially your gums
  • The amount of bone in your jaw

If all of the above look good, then your oral surgeon may suggest implants for you.

What Is a Dental Implant?

A dental implant can be used to replace one or more missing or damaged teeth, whether the teeth have been damaged due to decay or trauma. An implant will function just like your natural tooth and will be customized to the same size, shape, and shade of your natural teeth so that only you and your dentist will know that it’s an artificial tooth. Since it’s a permanent installation, it will never need to be removed for cleaning or maintenance.

Two types of implants are available:

  • Endosteal implants, which are installed directly into the jawbone
  • Subperiosteal implants, which are installed underneath the gums

There are three parts to a dental implant:

  1. The body: The body of your implant is a lightweight and durable titanium post. Titanium has a very low rejection rate, so your body should accept it in a process known as osseointegration. The post is surgically inserted into your gums and will be used to anchor your artificial tooth or teeth.
  2. The abutment: This is the connector that anchors your artificial tooth to the post and is installed after the post has fused to your jawbone.
  3. The crown: This is the artificial tooth that looks like your natural tooth and the part that’s visible above your gumline. It’s sometimes referred to as a prosthesis, and it’s the last step of the installation.

Are Dental Implants Reliable?

The titanium post that anchors the artificial tooth functions like the root of your natural tooth. The posts are extremely strong, so they can anchor just one tooth or several. The abutment connects the post and the crown, so your tooth is firmly anchored in place. Your crown will be custom matched to the color, size, and shape of your other teeth, so it will look very natural. When properly installed, a dental implant is one of the safest and most reliable dental procedures available.

What Will Happen During My Implant Procedure?

Surgical placement of dental implants is usually performed on an outpatient basis and will require a few office visits and several months to complete, which includes the healing time between procedures. Generally, you can expect the following:

  • Removing the damaged teeth or tooth during your initial appointment
  • Prepping the site for the surgery
  • Bone grafting if needed
  • Installation of the titanium post
  • Time for the bone to heal and grow
  • Installation of your abutment
  • Placement of your crown or crowns

The length of time required for your specific procedure will depend, in part, on the speed with which your body heals, as well as the scope of work that you need.

Is Bone Grafting Always Necessary?

No. Some people have sufficient bone in their jaw to enable bone grafting. Others, however, may have weakened bones or a loss of bone mass that will make a graft essential. Bone can be obtained from another part of the body or a bone substitute can be used that will encourage new bone growth. Minor bone grafting is sometimes performed as part of the post installation, but more extensive grafting usually requires additional time and is an additional procedure.

How Is the Implant Placed?

Your oral surgeon will make an incision that will expose the jawbone and then drill a hole in it, which will be the site of the post installation. The incision will be stitched shut and osseointegration will begin, which is the process whereby your jawbone will bond to the post. Usually, this is performed on an outpatient basis using a local anesthetic.

After the incision has healed and the osseointegration is complete, your oral surgeon will install the abutment by making a small incision that will expose the implant. The abutment will be installed, the incision will be closed, and then the site will be given time to heal. This usually takes about two weeks. Some patients opt to have the abutment installed when the post is placed, but your oral surgeon will advise you if this is feasible for you.

When Will My Crown Be Installed?

After the abutment has been placed and the site has healed, we’ll take impressions of your mouth and gums, which will be used to fabricate your crown or crowns. When those are ready, you’ll return to our office for the installation of your fixed crowns. If you’re getting removable crowns, which are very similar to dentures, you’ll receive your artificial teeth in pink plastic gums that snap onto the posts but can be removed for cleaning and maintenance.

What Happens After My Surgery?

It’s typical for patients to experience discomfort after oral surgery. This includes some pain at the site, minor bleeding, bruising, and swelling. Your surgeon will provide you with medication as needed for pain, and you’ll be given advice on managing bleeding, swelling, and bruising.

Are There Drawbacks as Well as Benefits to Dental Implants?

As with any dental procedure, there are both benefits and drawbacks to dental implants. The benefits include comfort, convenience, appearance, durability, and ease of maintenance. Dental implants are as comfortable as your natural teeth, they look like your natural teeth, and they are as easy to care for, although their longevity can be diminished if you don’t practice good oral hygiene.

Drawbacks to dental implants include the cost, which is the biggest disadvantage, since implants are expensive. One tooth can cost thousands of dollars, which may not be covered by your insurance, although most oral surgeons offer payment plans. Even though they can last a lifetime, sometimes a crown will need to be replaced and that may not be covered by dental insurance.

Implant surgery is still surgery, so there always are risks involved. They can include an adverse reaction to the anesthetic, an infection, nerve damage, damage to the surrounding teeth, and jaw fractures. Implants require a considerable investment in time as well, so it’s not a quick solution to a problem.

Can a Local Dentist Provide Dental Implants?

Correctly performing dental implant surgery requires extensive training and education and knowledge of oral surgical procedures. If you’re seeking implant surgery, be sure your dentist is board-certified and well trained in the procedure. A reputable surgeon will gladly answer your questions about qualifications such as education, training, and experience, so don’t hesitate to ask.

If you’re looking for dental implants, then call our office to speak with one of our dedicated staff members. We offer high-quality dental procedures at affordable rates, so call us today to schedule your initial consultation or book your appointment online.

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900 N Taylor Street, Suite 150, Arlington, VA 22203

(703) 291-3111

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