What are Dental Implants?
In simple terms, dental implants are artificial teeth that are implanted in your jaws, to replace missing teeth. It is a dental restoration procedure that can be used to improve the esthetics of your teeth or they can be used to treat specific dental conditions.
If you have dental damage or need to improve the esthetics of your tooth, please call Dr. Thanos Kristallis & Associates at Washington Metro Center Dental. We can discuss with you and work with you to determine whether dental implants or another dental restoration treatment option is best for you.
When would we recommend Dental Implant(s) for you?
Generally, Dr. Thanos Kristallis & Associates at Washington Metro Center Dental would recommend dental implants for you as a treatment choice if you have missing or lost teeth. Implants can be used to replace single or multiple missing teeth.
Please be aware that there are other choices too, such as crowns and bridges and dentures, to replace missing teeth. Dental implants can also support such alternate treatment options and are the treatment of choice today.
Why replace missing teeth?
You may be wondering whether it is even necessary to replace missing teeth, other than for aesthetic reasons. Yes, there are several good reasons we recommend that you do so.
- To maintain the natural shape of your jaw and face: If you have missing teeth for long, the shape of your jaw and face can change. Dental implants can prevent this from happening.
- To eliminate bone loss from your jaws: Once a tooth is lost, the corresponding jawbone beneath it will not receive stimulation and will start deteriorating. A dental implant can help prevent this because it forms a strong bond with the jaw and provides a stable foundation. (Tooth replacement systems such as dentures do not offer the same bone loss prevention as dental implants.)
- To help restore normal biting and chewing: Missing teeth can cause biting problems, which in turn can result in improper digestion and related health concerns. Replacing your missing teeth with dental implants can prevent this problem. (Again this is an advantage of implants over dentures, because with dentures the extent of restoration of normal biting and chewing is not as good as that with dental implants).
How we do Dental Implants?
Implanting the artificial teeth involves surgical procedures and is usually done in several stages. The specific details on how we do it and the treatment length will vary with individual patient needs. For example, it will depend on how many implants you need, the condition of your jawbone, how fast it heals etc.
Also, some patients may require bone grafting before the initial dental implant surgery, which lengthens the whole process.
- In general, you will need at least four visits to your dentist at Dr. Thanos Kristallis & Associates at Washington Metro Center Dental. The dental implant process from start to completion can take about four to nine months; sometimes even longer. Most of this time will be spent on healing and waiting for the growth of new bone in your jaw.
- Before starting the dental implant procedure, your dentist at Washington Metro Center Dental will conduct a thorough dental examination to prepare the area for the procedure. It would involve procedures such as taking pictures, X-rays or 3D digital image and cleaning.
- Once the area is prepared, the first step is to implant the dental implant fixture in your jawbone. At this time, you will also receive a temporary tooth, so that you can eat and function like normal almost immediately. After implanting the dental implant fixture you must wait for a few (3-4) months. This is to facilitate healing so that the implant integrates with your jawbone.
- Upon proper healing, the next step is to attach the abutment, followed by a shorter healing period. This is followed by the final step, which is called implant prosthesis or attachment of the permanent ceramic tooth and attachment of the crown. All immediate and permanent restorations are fabricated in our in-house dental laboratory.
- Now your new tooth should be installed for life. Generally no additional treatment is needed.
What can you expect after a Dental Implant:
Once the procedure is finished, they look, feel and function like your natural teeth. You should expect to be able to work and function normally immediately. Usually, implants will last your lifetime. Ideally, we recommend that the crown (false tooth placed on top) should be replaced every 10 – 15 years.
When compared to other treatment options for missing teeth, such as dental bridges or dentures, dental implants are extremely natural looking. They look and feel much better and function as good as your normal teeth.
What are the risks / concerns?
- Some people may experience temporary discomfort or minor pain for a couple of days.
- This is a surgical procedure. So, you may sometimes see bruising or minor swelling immediately after the implant surgery.
- Compared to options such as dental bridges and dentures, the dental implant procedure costs about the same and is not any more of a laborious procedure. Please take your time to discuss with us, so that you can decide which is the best option for you.