Dental implants can provide an advanced solution for individuals who have lost a single tooth or multiple teeth. These revolutionary restorative options offer a state-of-the-art alternative to traditional dentures, and are known for results that look and feel like natural teeth.
Missing teeth can present a number of problems for your oral health and appearance. The gaps left by these teeth can cause teeth to shift, degrade the jawbone, and make it difficult to eat or speak normally. Of course, missing teeth can also cause feelings of insecurity and embarrassment, and may cause you to hesitate when laughing or smiling.
At our practice, we believe that everyone deserves a beautiful, healthy smile. Our team of doctors can use dental implants to support patients’ crowns, bridges, and dentures, improving the appearance, health and function of their smiles. If you would like more information about dental implants, contact our practice to schedule a consultation today!
What Are Dental Implants?
Dental implants are surgically implanted titanium posts that essentially mimic the function of natural tooth roots. Once the dental implant posts are anchored to the jawbone in the area of the missing tooth, they go through a process called osseointegration, whereby the implants fuse to the bone, allowing them to become a permanent part of the mouth. The implants will then create a basis of support for restorations such as custom dental crowns, a bridge, or a denture that will be affixed to the top of them. Once this final stage of the dental implant procedure is complete, the results should function, look, and feel so much like natural teeth that it will be as though the original teeth were never lost.
What Are the Benefits of Dental Implants?
Dental implants provide the very best support for restorations to replace missing teeth. The many benefits offered by dental implants include:
- Strong support for restorations that can help you chew, eat, speak, laugh, and smile normally and confidently
- They do not slip or move along the gums
- Results that are similar to natural teeth in both appearance and function
- Prevention of the natural loss of bone cells that can occur in the jaw when tooth roots are absent
Who Is a Good Candidate for Dental Implants?
If your teeth have been compromised by significant damage or decay, have fallen out, or have been severely and irreparably damaged in an accident, dental implants can restore the structure, function, and appearance of your smile. If you are in generally good health, and are free from certain medical conditions, periodontal disease, or other severe dental conditions, you may be a candidate for dental implants. For patients who are currently suffering from periodontal disease, successful treatment for the condition may increase the chances of qualifying as a candidate for dental implants.
A consultation and oral evaluation with one of our dentists will determine whether this treatment is the best option for you. If a dental implant procedure is not the most ideal treatment, our practice offers a range of restorative alternatives, including custom dentures, that can provide exemplary results.
What Are the Different Types of Dental Implants?
Dental implants offer a versatile solution for missing teeth, and there are many types of dental implants to suit a range of individual needs. Some of the most popular include:
Single Tooth Implants
A single dental implant can be placed for a single missing tooth. This option can be ideal for patients with one missing tooth in a particular area of the mouth, providing an alternative to a dental bridge. It’s important to note that even just one lost tooth can create a host of problems, including possible loss of bone density and an effect on speaking and chewing. Replacement with a single dental implant can provide excellent functional and aesthetic results while working to prevent further dental issues in the future.
An implant bridge can be a good option for patients who have multiple missing teeth in an isolated area of the mouth. Implant bridges essentially serve the same function as a traditional dental bridge; however, instead of relying on dental crowns affixed to surrounding teeth for support, dental implants are placed on each side of the gap to secure the crown or crowns in-between.
Also known as implant-supported dentures or implant-anchored dentures, this solution can be highly beneficial for patients who are missing all teeth on the upper dental arch, the lower arch, or both. Implant dentures combine the advantages of custom dentures and dental implants to create a more secure restoration. A custom denture will be locked onto a select number of dental implants placed in strategic areas of the mouth. This system dramatically reduces the potential that the new teeth will slip or move along the gums, and can ultimately produce results that function and feel more like natural teeth. Our practice offers the innovative All-On-4® implant denture technique, which has become one of the more popular options available.
Understanding the Dental Implants Procedure
The dental implant procedure typically requires two surgeries and months of healing time, but can provide a lifetime of superior support for your restorations. The personalized aspects of your treatment will be determined during your initial consultation and will cater to each of your dental needs. This first appointment will involve an in-depth discussion of the procedural steps and recovery instructions, and an assessment of your expectations that will help you and your dentist organize the most relevant care plan. If you have any questions or concerns, this visit is a great time to discuss them. Our dentists do perform the implantation surgery upon request, but they also work with some of Eastern Virginia’s highest-acclaimed oral surgeons.
On the day of your procedure, we will administer an anesthetic and create an incision in your gum. After gently creating pilot holes in the jaw, the doctor will insert the small titanium screw into your jaw. Your gums will be stitched closed over the top of the implant.
The next stage of the process involves osseointegration, or the fusing of the implant to the bone. The healing time typically ranges from three to six months.
Once your dental implant has properly fused to the bone, we will invite you back to our Chesapeake office to uncover the implant. During this procedure, the tissue around the implant will be sculpted so it can frame the final restoration. A special abutment is attached to the implant, which will serve as the point of contact with the dental crown, bridge or denture. Whether you’re having dental bridges, crowns, or dentures placed, our selection of restorations is made with the highest-quality material to make your smile look and function like new.
When the final restoration is affixed to the implant, you should have a beautifully restored smile and teeth that feel natural!
What Are Some Alternatives to Dental Implants?
There are some alternatives to dental implants that can produce exceptional results; however, none can quite match the durability and unique benefits offered by dental implants. With that in mind, some patients simply may not be ideal candidates for dental implants and are therefore better suited to an alternative option for missing teeth replacement. Traditional dentures may be the best solution for patients who are missing full rows of teeth and have insufficient jawbone density to support dental implants. A denture prosthesis can be customized for the best possible fit and appearance, allowing patients to improve chewing and speaking while enhancing smile aesthetics. For individuals who are missing one or more teeth in an isolated area of the mouth, a dental bridge may be recommended. Dental bridges can fill the gap left by missing teeth by placing artificial teeth in that space and supporting them with a dental crown on each adjacent tooth. These tried-and-true options can look and feel very natural, and fixed dental bridges can even replace partial dentures in some cases for a solution that feels more permanent.
Once you have been evaluated during the initial oral examination, our dentist can explore all options with you to determine the best treatment for your needs and goals.
Are Dental Implants Safe?
Dental implants are generally considered to be safe treatment options when performed by an experienced dental professional who has been extensively trained in implant dentistry. Since dental implant procedures require oral surgery, it is important to understand that any treatment with a surgical component carries some degree of risk. Experienced dentists and oral surgeons who utilize advanced dental implant planning technology, state-of-the-art techniques, and maximum precautions during implant placement are capable of minimizing the risk of infection, implant failure, and other potential (though rare) complications. It is also important for patients to strictly follow all pre- and post-treatment guidelines designed to help increase the chances of a safe recovery and successful results.
Do Dental Implants Hurt?
The dental implant procedure itself should not produce discomfort since the treatment area is anesthetized. After the procedure, the area will likely feel a bit tender; however, these side effects should fade within the first few days during the healing process. Most patients are able to manage post-op discomfort with over-the-counter pain medication.
How Much Do Dental Implants Cost?
The Eastern Virginia Family & Cosmetic Dentistry staff is an excellent resource for financial planning information and guidance. Dental implants can change your life, and are an investment for your future, health, and happiness. If you have questions about the cost of dental implants, our team will answer them.
Additional Frequently Asked Questions About Dental Implants
Are dental implants covered by insurance?
Some dental insurance policies may offer a certain amount of coverage for dental implant procedures. If you are unsure whether your insurance plan offers coverage for your treatment, a member of our team here at Eastern Virginia Family & Cosmetic Dentistry can assist you.
Do dental implants look natural?
The ultimate goal of dental implants is to provide results that not only look natural, but also feel natural. Many patients find their dental implants to be so identical to their natural teeth that it is challenging to tell the difference!
How do I clean dental implants?
Cleaning and maintaining dental implants is a very easy process because it is no different than normal oral hygiene routines. Daily brushing and flossing, plus a regular schedule of routine dental check-ups, are typically all that’s necessary for keeping your dental implants clean.
Does smoking affect dental implants?
Yes. Smoking can severely compromise dental implants. In fact, research has found that smoking may possibly have a direct link to implant failure. Smoking can also significantly heighten the risk of infection and dramatically slow the healing process after the implant has been placed. Our dentists strongly recommend that patients quit smoking at least one month before the procedure. It is also advisable to make a post-treatment plan to ensure that the habit is not resumed after the implants have been placed.
How long does it take to get dental implants?
Dental implant procedures require multiple appointments staged over time. When the implants are initially placed, they are anchored to the jawbone, which allows them to remain secure while the osseointegration (fusion with the bone) process commences. It can take several months for the implants to fully fuse with the jawbone. When the osseointegration process is complete, our dentist can place the permanent custom crown and make any final adjustments necessary to ensure the best fit, function, and appearance of the implants.
Learn More About Dental Implants
If you are interested in scheduling an appointment for dental implants, contact us today.