Dental implants, an advanced form of tooth replacement therapy, are designed to mimic natural teeth in structure, function, and appearance. They also replace root structure after extraction to prevent bone resorption. There are many conditions that require dental implants, especially in cases involving missing or damaged teeth, severe misalignment, and other issues. Here’s what you should know.
A Brief Overview of Dental Implants Work
Using a titanium post that’s surgically inserted into the jaw bone, a dental implant can:
- Replicate the function of a tooth root.
- Prevent misalignment (bite collapse) and potential jaw pain due to missing molars.
- Also prevent deterioration of bone where roots used to be that often follow major tooth loss or damage.
The titanium post is then topped with a custom crown to fit the patient’s particular bite for optimal function and aesthetics. Dental implants offer a stable foundation for replacement teeth, such as crowns, bridges, or dentures.
Dr. Mojgan Mazhari is a skilled implantologist with years of experience treating tooth loss with this revolutionary method. Alexandria Dental Health & Smile Studio has the most advanced imaging technology and creates digital impressions using the Cerec 3D prime scan, which allows for accurate planning, design, and placement of dental implants.
What Are the Benefits of Dental Implants?
Some of the key benefits of dental implants for your long-term oral health include:
- Reduced bone loss and shrinkage in the jaw
- Less damage to adjacent natural teeth
- Increased stability of your overall dental health
- The ability to eat a varied, healthy diet and chew comfortably
- Retained ability to speak normally
- No daily maintenance and/or adhesives beyond basic hygiene
- No fear of your teeth or dental appliance “falling out”
Although dental implants typically require a greater commitment of both time and money upfront, patients report that many of the long-term benefits outweigh the cost of investment.
What Are the Different Types of Dental Implants?
Based on your treatment goals, there are many techniques that may work for you.
Single-Tooth Implants (single implant-supported crown)
These are designed to replace individual missing or damaged teeth. This form of restoration is the closest thing to a natural tooth, as it replaces every part of the tooth structure, including the root.
To begin, a titanium post is inserted into the jawbone, representing a new “root.” Over the course of a few months, the post and the bone should fuse together, creating a stable, permanent base for the customized dental crown restoration to be placed on top of the post. The titanium root of the implant has the added benefit of stimulating the jawbone and preventing further decay and damage to surrounding teeth.
In most cases, dental implants look, feel, and function exactly like a natural tooth. They’re also quite durable and capable of lasting for decades with proper care and maintenance. Most patients report that their final crown feels better than their own teeth.
Implant Bridges (multi-unit bridge supported by multiple implants)
When a patient is missing multiple teeth in a row, an alternative form of implant restoration can be employed in which a few implant posts are used to support a series—or bridge— of crowns. Dr. Mazhari carefully evaluates your oral health and the structure of your jawbone in order to best determine how many individual implants will be needed to adequately support the rows of custom crowns. Using our advanced imaging technology, she’ll then strategically place the implants for the best security, comfort, function, and aesthetics.
If you’re missing all or nearly all of your teeth on one or both dental arches, it may be possible to restore your entire smile with implant-supported dentures. Full mouth restoration cases usually require four to six titanium implants per arch, which are used to anchor a prosthetic denture. Using our advanced imaging technology, Dr. Mazhari strategically places the implants for optimal comfort and stability. Once the implants have successfully fused with the jawbone, the custom dental prosthesis is firmly affixed onto the implant base for a secure, functional, and natural-looking result.
There are numerous options available for full mouth cases, including for people who have been without their teeth for a long time. If, after years of wearing traditional removable dentures, your jawbone has deteriorated too much for dental implants to be supported, there are still options. Some types of implants are designed to work with less jawbone, and these methods may be the solution for people who aren’t able to get regular implants. Smaller or angled implants from Dr. Mazhari can solve problems with placement for many patients.
Am I a Candidate for Dental Implants?
Candidates for dental implants are those who have one or more missing or severely damaged teeth in need of replacement. However, there are a few circumstances that may impact your candidacy including, but not limited to:
- Significant bone deterioration
- Certain diseases like diabetes, which can adversely impact the immune system.
During a consultation, Dr. Mazhari examines your oral health, medical history, and lifestyle in order to determine eligibility for dental implants.
What Does the Dental Implant Procedure Involve?
While the precise details of the dental implant treatment process vary for each patient, the timeline for completing the treatment is generally a period of several months, spread over various stages.
At our practice, we offer iTero and CEREC Primescan for more accurate, convenient treatment. The iTero is an innovative tool that utilizes advanced technology to generate digital dental impressions. This allows our team to accurately map out the treatment plan for each patient’s new smile. With CEREC Primescan, our team uses intuitive artificial intelligence to create detailed scans of our patients’ teeth. Both of these devices eliminate the need for traditional putties and pastes in order to map out your smile, and reduce the amount of time it takes to create a precise impression, which can speed up the entire process of receiving dental implants.
If Dr. Mazhari is doing the initial tooth extraction, she generally recommends waiting about two to three months after the extraction before attaching the permanent implant. Usually, she places a temporary tooth on the day of the extraction in order to give patients greater comfort and aesthetic peace of mind, as well as to keep the space open and prevent bite change or collapse during the extraction recovery period.
The two-month waiting period encompasses the average amount of time that it takes for the jawbone to grow back where the extracted tooth root used to be. In cases where a patient has low jawbone density, Dr. Mazhari may recommend patients undergo a bone grafting procedure in order to ensure a higher likelihood of implant success.
Once the bone growth and density are satisfactory, the implant placement itself is actually relatively straightforward, as we insert a high-quality titanium post into the extraction site. This post then fuses with the jawbone over the course of several months, in preparation for the placement of a permanent crown.
Alexandria Dental Health & Smile Studio does a significant amount of prep work before placing the implant, which includes taking a CT scan and planning the angulation of the implant for improved accuracy. We carefully prepare the details of the procedure ahead of time so that our patients can have the most streamlined, comfortable, and efficient treatment possible. Many of our patients are in the dental chair for under an hour on the day of their implant placement (for a single implant).
After the titanium post is inserted, Dr. Mazhari places the temporary tooth back in so that the titanium post has time to fuse fully with the jawbone. We instruct patients to try not to chew in that area or subject it to unnecessary or excessive pressure. About four to six months after the implant is placed, the final crown can be connected to the titanium post, completing the implant process. Usually, there’s no need for follow-up appointments during the healing period unless a patient experiences a problem.
The above information assumes that only one dental implant is being placed. If the treatment plan calls for more than one implant to be placed during a single sitting, then each additional implant adds about 30 minutes to the total operating time. Dr. Mazhari feels that it’s essential to be careful and precise while placing implants in order to avoid causing inflammation in the bone. This increases the comfort of her patients and allows for a greater success rate.
How Long Do Dental Implants Last?
Dental implants are used to secure dental restorations into place and can provide increased stability and functionality. The physical titanium post that makes up the dental implant is likely to last for a lifetime, as it fuses with the surrounding bone within the jaw. While the dental appliance on the surface level (such as a dental crown) will likely need to be replaced over time, the actual dental implant shouldn’t endure the same wear and tear.
Proper maintenance and oral care can also lend to the overall longevity of dental implants.
What Are the Alternatives to Dental Implants?
If dental implants aren’t right for you for some reason, there are alternatives that can produce similar results.
- Traditionally, dentures were the ideal solution for patients who needed to address missing or damaged teeth in most or all of a dental arch. Since dental implants require a certain amount of jawbone density, dentures may be a better option if you lack the required amount.
- Dental bridges can also be a great alternative for individuals not suited for dental implants and only need to address one or a few missing teeth. Dental bridges fill the gap left by a missing tooth (or consecutive teeth) by attaching to the two surrounding teeth on either side.
How Do I Care for My Dental Implants?
Maintaining proper hygiene is critical to extending the longevity of your results. Dental implants are designed to feel and look natural while mimicking the function of regular teeth, so make sure to keep brushing at least twice daily, flossing before bed, and scheduling routine dental exams.
Recovering From Dental Implant Surgery
Because dental implant surgery is different for each patient, recovery varies, too. The length of recovery is impacted by the amount of implants patients receive, the type of implant, and the overall work needed to meet their needs.
Patients typically experience some form of discomfort that may include swelling and bleeding, but this should subside over time. Pain medication can also be prescribed to address any swelling and discomfort. Generally speaking, the recovery from dental implant surgery can last between three and six months. However, patients should be able to return to work within one–to–two days of surgery.
How Much Do Dental Implants Cost?
The total cost of dental implants varies significantly depending on numerous factors including, but not limited to:
- The amount of preparation needed to prepare the implant site(s)
- The number of implants being placed
- Type of restoration chosen
- Whether or not bone grafting is necessary
That said, the cost of treatment typically ranges between $1,600 and $2,600 for the implant and abutment, and $1,600 and $2,600 for the crown/restoration. The total cost for a single tooth implant is typically around $5,000.
Dental implants are permanent, easy to take care of, and designed to look and function just like natural teeth, but many patients are wary of the perceived cost. Indeed, since dental implants require surgery and custom fabrications, the upfront costs often appear significantly higher than those for a fixed dental bridge, denture, or other restoration option.
However, the lifetime value of dental implants can more than make up for this discrepancy: as a permanent tooth replacement option, the lifetime maintenance fees associated with dental implants are often much lower than those of dentures or other removable appliances. They also have the advantage of requiring only basic oral hygiene care, as opposed to the complex array of cleaning, sanitizing, and adhering solutions used for other restorations.
In addition to the long-term financial benefits of implants, Alexandria Dental Health & Smile Studio also offers a number of financing options to help make them more affordable in the short term. We partner with a number of trusted national health care lenders in order to make dental implants attainable for nearly any budget. Our financial partners can help qualified applicants set up a payment plan that suits their needs, ensuring that high-quality dental solutions are available to as many patients as possible.
What Happens if My Dental Implants Need Repair?
Dental implants are a wonderful way to restore your smile and improve your overall oral health. However, dental implants require maintenance and regular care. There may also come a time when your dental implants need to be restored or repaired due to damage, improper care (heavy plaque and bacteria surrounding the implant, for example), or just regular wear and tear. Fortunately, the team at Alexandria Dental Health & Smile Studio is ready to make your dental implants as good as new.
Dental implants are stronger than natural teeth, and you can typically expect the dental crown affixed to the implant post to last between 10–to–20 years or longer when properly cared for.
However, regular dental visits are vital for maintaining your implants and keeping them healthy and strong. Improper care can cause the implants to get loose prematurely, meaning that they will need to be replaced earlier. Furthermore, if the implant wasn’t correctly fitted when first installed, or if bone support is inadequate and the titanium post doesn’t properly fuse, additional problems can occur. Other factors, such as diabetes—which can weaken the immune system and leave an individual more susceptible to infection; or smoking—which kills bone and gum tissue—can also increase the likelihood of a patient potentially needing an implant repaired.
If you notice a problem with your dental implants, don’t wait until the problem gets worse. Your dentist can often recognize problems before you may even be aware of them. Dr. Mazhari has been working with dental implants for years, and she can often diagnose any issues and repair implants right in her office.