What Are Dental Implants?
Dental Implants are a long-term solution if you have one or more missing teeth and want a reliable replacement option. Our Alexandria dentist explains what dental implants are, the procedure involved, and what to expect during the recovery process here.
What Are Dental Implants?
Implants are metal posts that replace the roots of missing teeth. They provide a strong, stable foundation for prostheses (crowns, bridges, implant-retained dentures, etc.) designed to match the appearance and function of your natural teeth.
How Do Dental Implants Work?
A dental implant consists of three parts: a metal post, an abutment, and a crown.
The implant itself is made of titanium and is surgically placed into the jawbone, where it acts as a new root for the tooth. The abutment is a connector that attaches the post to the crown. The crown is the visible part of the implant that resembles a real tooth.
Dental Implants FAQs
Who Is a Candidate for Dental Implants?
You’re likely a candidate for dental implants if you’re missing at least one tooth, have an overall healthy mouth, and have sufficient bone.
A strong jawbone is needed to support and anchor the implants. However, if you’ve suffered bone loss, that doesn’t mean you’re totally ineligible for implants — your dentist may even recommend them to prevent further deterioration. Your jawbone can also be rebuilt with grafting procedures.
How Long Does It Take to Get Dental Implants?
The entire process takes three to nine months, though most of this time is dedicated to healing and osseointegration. While your dentist can provide a more precise timeline during your consultation, here’s what you can expect from the dental implants process:
- Consultation and planning – The dentist or oral surgeon evaluates your oral health and creates a personalized treatment plan.
- Implant placement – The implant posts are surgically placed in the jawbone. Healing occurs over several weeks to months.
- Abutment and crown placement – After the gum tissue heals, the prosthetic teeth or dental crowns are attached to the abutments.
What Is the Recovery Process Like for Dental Implants?
The healing process for dental implants might take weeks to months, depending on the number of implants and their location in the jawbone. That said, you can try to speed up the recovery time by doing the following:
- Stick to soft foods immediately post-surgery
- Avoid hot foods or drinks
- Don’t use straws because of the suction
- Stay hydrated, reduce alcohol and caffeine intake, and limit strenuous activities
- Use ice packs to reduce swelling
- Do saltwater rinses to keep bacteria away and maintain good oral hygiene, even around the implant site, so food particles don’t get stuck in the surgical site
How Long Do Dental Implants Last?
With regular brushing and flossing, implant screws can last a lifetime because they’re directly placed into the jawbone. Dental crowns, on the other hand, are more susceptible to damage and might need replacing every 10-15 years. However, when this happens, your dentist can usually replace the crown without removing the implant.
What Type of Maintenance Do Dental Implants Require?
You should care for your implants the same way you do your natural teeth. A strict regimen is the only way to ensure their longevity and health.
Here are some tips on how to maintain your dental implants:
- Brush your teeth twice daily with a soft-bristled toothbrush and a non-abrasive toothpaste. Use gentle circular motions to clean all surfaces of your teeth and implants.
- Floss your teeth at least twice daily. Carefully slide the floss or interdental brush between your teeth and implants, and gently clean the sides of the implant and gum line.
- Rinse your mouth with antibacterial mouthwash after brushing and flossing. This can help reduce plaque and bacteria that can cause inflammation and infection around the implants.
- Visit your dentist regularly for professional cleaning and check-ups. They can remove hard plaque deposits and examine your implants for any signs of problems.
- Follow your dentist’s instructions on how often you need your implants cleaned and checked. Our dentist, Dr. Mullaney, can advise you on specific products or techniques suitable for your implants if you’re in the Alexandria area.
Dental Implants in Alexandria, VA
Want a safe, effective way to restore your smile and confidence? Dr. Kathleen Mullaney, DDS, offers cosmetic dentistry services in Alexandria, VA.
Call 240-532-3335 or contact our dental office today to schedule a consultation and discover how dental implants can improve your life.
Author Bio: Dr. Kathleen Mullaney offers general and cosmetic dentistry services in Alexandria, VA. She earned her doctorate in dental surgery from the Medical College of Virginia (MCV) and proudly served as a United States Navy dentist before opening her practice. With over 25 years of experience, Dr. Mullaney is delighted to be one of Old Town’s most respected and sought-after dentists! Call 240-532-3335 to schedule an appointment.