If you have a lost tooth due to an injury, disease or even a congenitally missing tooth, your dentist may suggest a dental implant. This type of restorative dentistry can increase a patient’s health, well-being, confidence and of course, appearance.
When you see the picture of the dental implant above, it can seem a little scary, but don’t worry – we are here to educate you on how dental implants work, the implant procedure, how long they last and more.
How do Dental Implants Work?
Compared to a bridge which is supported by the teeth surrounding a missing tooth, or dentures which are removable, dental implants are a permanent solution for lost teeth as they are inserted into the jaw. After a few months, the implant fuses to the bone and is supported by the gum tissue making it a sturdy and solid anchor for the artificial tooth.
WHAT IS THE DENTAL IMPLANT PROCEDURE?
The process for getting a dental implant is between six to ten months and requires up to six visits. Here’s what you can expect:
EVALUATION AND RECOMMENDATION
At your first appointment your dentist will determine if you are a good candidate for dental implant surgery. Your oral hygiene, bone density and overall health will be considered.
Next you will have X-rays, impressions and tooth color matching performed so your artificial tooth looks as natural as possible. Your dentist will describe your treatment timeline and cost, and answer any questions you have.
If you need any impacted, damaged or broken teeth removed, your next visit will accomplish this. The health of the tooth and supporting bone will determine if you need oral surgery or if a simple extraction will be sufficient.
At your next appointment the metal post of the dental implant will be surgically inserted into your jaw. If you choose, you can be sedated for this procedure.
The surgeon will make an incision in the gum where the implant is then inserted. At this time, you may receive a temporary crown if the missing tooth was in a prominent and noticeable spot like a front tooth. In some cases visits two and three can be combined in one visit. Your doctor will let you know if your implant falls into this category.
Your next appointment will not be scheduled for about three to six months as you wait for osseointegration – the process in which the bone grows, heals and fuses to the implant.
HEALING ABUTMENT PLACEMENT
After you have adequately healed and your dentist feels confident that the implant is anchored securely, the healing abutment is attached to the implant to insure that the gum does not grow over the top of the implant. This is a quick procedure and will only require local anesthesia.
CUSTOM ABUTMENT AND IMPLANT CROWN MEASUREMENT
At this appointment, you will be fitted for your implant crown. At CNS Dental, this is achieved via iTero, a 3D scanner, and does not require anesthetics or gooey molds.
ARTIFICIAL TOOTH PLACEMENT
In three short weeks, when your mouth has fully healed, you will be able to have the final step in your dental implant completed. At this time, the artificial tooth will be attached to the abutment.
Smile! You are ready for your close-up! Just be sure to practice meticulous oral hygiene to keep your new implant in tip top shape.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF DENTAL IMPLANTS?
Aside from the obvious cosmetic appeal of replacing a missing tooth, dental implants offer even more benefits like:
- Providing stability to healthy surrounding teeth
- Protecting the integrity of your jawbone
- Improving speech
- Restoring chewing for better healthy diet options
- Preserving facial structure
- Preventing bite issues
ARE DENTAL IMPLANTS PAINFUL?
Since most steps of the dental implant procedure are done with general or local anesthesia, the surgery itself is not painful. While you are in the healing osseointegration phase, you may experience some pain, swelling and minor bleeding. Pain medications, ice, eating soft foods and time usually take care of this discomfort.
HOW LONG DO DENTAL IMPLANTS LAST?
With proper care, dental implants can last 25+ years! Practice excellent oral hygiene, eat healthy, low-sugar foods and of course go to your dentist for regular checkups two or more times a year.
Dental Implants in Arlington, VA
Missing teeth in a smile can make you feel very self conscious. Restore the look of your smile with dental implants at CNS Dental! Our dentists will answer all your questions about how dental implants work and walk you through our process. Book an appointment today!