What to Expect When You Get Dental Implants

Dental decay and gum disease are the two most common oral health problems among adults of all ages. Untreated tooth decay and advanced gum disease are the two main causes of the third most common oral health problem: tooth loss. 

An estimated 178 million people in the United States — or over half of American adults — have lost at least one of their permanent teeth. The problem tends to become more severe with age, too; nearly 1 in 3 adults who are 65 or older are missing all of their natural teeth. 

When it comes to replacing lost teeth with a durable and natural-looking restoration, nothing beats permanent dental implants. Here’s what you can expect from Quang Tran, DDS, and the team at Smiles in Springfield when you opt to restore your smile with implants. 

Dental implant basics

As a permanent solution for missing teeth that’s designed to look, feel, and function exactly like natural teeth (but without any risk of decay), dental implants are the restoration of choice for patients and dentists alike. 

Made of biocompatible titanium, a dental implant is a highly durable artificial tooth root that’s surgically inserted into your jawbone. After the tissues heal and the implant fuses to your bone, the implant is finished with an artificial tooth (crown) that matches your natural teeth and fits your bite perfectly.  

Dental implant process

Implant treatment is generally completed in four steps: jawbone evaluation, surgical implant placement, post-surgical healing, and the finishing restoration. 

If your jawbone isn’t deep enough or hard enough to accommodate an implant, you may also require the additional step of bone grafting prior to surgery. Depending on your personal needs and rate of healing, the entire process can take several weeks or several months.  

Jawbone evaluation 

Healthy gum tissue and adequate jawbone mass are the two main prerequisites for successful implant surgery. Dr. Tran uses a cone beam computed tomography scan to determine whether your jawbone is able to accommodate implants. 

This special X-ray creates a high-resolution 3D image of your jaw that reveals important details about bone structure and nerve location. On top of helping Dr. Tran assess jawbone quality and mass, it also helps him determine proper implant size and placement. 

Additional preparation

While many people have sufficient jawbone strength and depth to accommodate implants, some patients require additional preparation to achieve adequate jawbone mass and structure. 

If your jawbone is too shallow or soft to hold an implant, a simple bone grafting treatment can help you get the density and strength you need to move forward with your restoration. A bone graft is an in-office procedure that’s done by surgically “adding” granules of bone graft material onto your jaw to stimulate bone growth.

Depending on the extent of your graft treatment, it can take a few weeks or a few months for your jawbone to build itself up enough to support implants. 

Implant surgery 

Once you’ve been cleared to receive implants, you’re ready for implant surgery. If your implant will be replacing a damaged tooth that hasn’t fallen out on its own, Dr. Tran begins with a gentle tooth extraction. 

Implant surgery is an in-office procedure done with local anesthesia. Each implant you receive is set into your jawbone in a completely predetermined way, from its exact location to its depth and angle of placement. 

After your implants are in place, Dr. Tran closes your gum tissue over each one to protect them during osseointegration, or the time it takes for them to bond with your jawbone. 

Post-surgical healing

This step in the implant process can be relatively fast if your oral tissues heal rapidly, but it can also take longer if they heal slowly. Depending on your overall health and rate of healing, you may be ready for your replacement teeth in a few weeks or in several months. 

Before you receive implants, Dr. Tran can give you a better idea of what to expect during your healing process. 

Finishing restoration

Once your implants are fully fused and your gum tissues have healed, you’re ready for the final step: receiving your custom dental restoration. 

Individual implants are typically finished with a custom porcelain crown, while multiple missing teeth may be addressed with an overdenture that’s fixed to a few strategically placed implants.

Dental implant results

As the only dental restoration that actually bonds to your jawbone, implants are reliably stable and secure. To put it another way — implants are as close as you can get to natural teeth.

Unlike removable dentures, implants provide the same bite force as your natural teeth. And like real tooth roots, implants continuously stimulate your jawbone to remodel and rebuild itself so it stays healthy and strong. 

To learn more about the implant process at Smiles in Springfield or to schedule a visit with Dr. Tran, call our Springfield, Virginia, office at 703-634-4239 today.

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