There are a number of reasons that individuals may experience tooth loss including injury, disease, or extraction. These missing teeth can pose cosmetic and functional issues for patients, and a dental implant can be an appropriate and effective way for restoration.

Dental implant surgery is a multi-stage process that can take several months and should be performed by a trusted and board-certified dental expert

Here’s everything you need to know about dental implants.

What Is a Dental Implant?

Teeth That Look and Feel Like Your Own

A dental implant is an artificial tooth root that a periodontist places into your jaw to hold a replacement tooth or bridge. Dental implants are an ideal option for people in good general oral health who have lost a tooth or teeth due to periodontal disease, an injury, or some other reason.

While high-tech in nature, dental implants are actually more tooth-saving than traditional bridgework, since implants do not rely on neighboring teeth for support.

Implants are very durable and will last many years. They require the same “maintenance” as real teeth, including brushing, flossing and regular dental check-ups. Dental implants can help restore almost anyone’s smile even if natural teeth have been lost to injury or disease.

Although you have a number of restorative options for the treatment of missing teeth, none have proven to be as functionally effective and durable as implants. In many cases, dental implants may be the only logical choice for the restoration of all necessary functionality of the teeth and supporting structures.

Who’s a Good Candidate for Dental Implant Surgery?

Criteria for dental implant surgery includes: One or more missing teeth, a fully developed jawbone, sufficient bone to secure the implant or undergo bone grafting, healthy oral tissues, absence of conditions that may delay bone healing, and commitment to the three-to-nine month process.

Additionally, many patients seek dental implants because they are unable or unwilling to wear dentures and want to improve their appearance, mouth function, and speech.

What Are Some of the Risks of Dental Implants?

When placed by a skilled and experienced provider, dental implants are a safe and effective way to replace missing teeth.

However, like all surgery, this procedure carries some risks including: Infection at the implant site, Injury or damage to surrounding structures, nerve damage, and sinus problems.

How to Prepare for Dental Implants?

A dental exam, including X-rays and impressions, is the first step to receiving a dental implant.

Next, a treatment plan will be developed based on the number of teeth being replaced and the quality of the jawbone.

At this time, patients should also disclose medical conditions and current medications. Prophylactic antibiotics may be recommended in the case of a heart condition or orthopedic implant.

What to Expect from Placement of the Implant?

The surgery begins with removal of any damaged teeth. Next, the prosthodontist or surgeon will prepare the jawbone, which must be strong to support the implant. If a patient has bone loss, grafting may be performed.

Next, holes are drilled to allow for placement of the implant deep within the bone. Then a temporary crown is attached for cosmetic purposes.

It’s important that the bone heals tightly around the implant, and this process can take several months.

What to Expect from Placement of the Abutment?

Once the jawbone grows into the implant, the patient will return for the placement of the abutment. This process involves opening the gums and exposing the dental implant to attach this extension. Healing from this step usually takes two weeks.

However, the abutment may also be attached during the initial dental implant surgery.

What to Expect from Placement of the Crown?

In order to match the crown to the patient’s existing teeth, another set of impressions will be taken. Then the patient and provider will determine if a removable or fixed implant prosthesis is the best option.

A removable implant prosthesis is similar to a denture and can be removed by the patient as needed. It may be recommended when multiple teeth are missing from the lower jaw.

A fixed implant prosthesis is an artificial tooth that is permanently adhered to the implant by a screw or cement.

Recovery from Dental Implant Surgery

After each step, patients are often advised to eat soft food until the site heals.  Additionally, they may experience swelling of the gums and face, bruising, pain at the implant site, and minor bleeding.

Discomfort can usually be managed with over the counter medication.

Results

Most patients are extremely pleased with the appearance and function of their dental implant.

However, it’s possible to encounter a complication if the bone does not properly fuse with the implant. This often occurs when a patient is non-compliant and smokes during the recovery process.

Dental implant results should be maintained through daily oral hygiene, bi-annual dental exams and cleanings, and avoidance of hard foods (can cause cracks) and tobacco and caffeine (can cause stains).

  • Did you know that dental implants are frequently the best treatment solution for replacing missing teeth?
  • Rather cutting down otherwise healthy adjacent teeth to act as anchors to support a fixed bridge, or removable partials/dentures that do not restore the ability to chew and contributes to bone loss in your jaw.

To learn more about dental implants in Washington DC, please call Soft Touch Dentists today to schedule a consultation.