So you’ve either decided or been told that you’re in need of a dental implant. Naturally, you then begin to wonder about the next steps involved in the process and what you should expect moving forward. We’re going to help explain everything you need to know going into the dental implant process and provide you some useful information when making decisions in the process. We want you to know what to expect during each phase of treatment so you feel confident in choosing this life-long investment. At Phan Family Dentistry, we have designed the dental implant process to make it easy for you to restore your smile and Dr. Phan performs all necessary treatments at her practice in Alexandria, Virginia.
Your Dental implant Consultation
During the comprehensive consultation, which you may have already done if you’ve been told you’re in need of an implant, many important things take place. During this visit, our team will thoroughly examine your teeth, gums, and jawbone and take full X-rays and special CBCT scans of your mouth. We assess whether the tooth has fallen out from infection or a traumatic experience to make sure a dental implant is the proper choice for an area. Many things are taken into consideration during this consult to determine whether or not your mouth is prepared to support dental implants, or if supplemental procedures are necessary too such as bone grafting or treating existing infection. We do all of this during the consultation to ensure you’re receiving the care you want, while making sure it’s a proper treatment you need.
The Custom Dental Implant Plan, Delivered
Once we are able to gather all of the needed information from your consultation, our team will deisgn and deliver the personalized treatment plan and present it to you for confirmation. In this stage, this is where we explain things thoroughly such as the duration of the procedure, the exact steps involved, and any and all costs associated. If you have concerns about pricing, this is the time to discuss this and if major concerns are brought to light, we offer financing options as well. Additional treatment is offered at this time as well, such as sedation dentistry for those patients who believe the procedure to be too much to endure while awake (and entirely numbed.) Once the treatment plan is reviewed and approved, we can move on to the implant procedure itself.
Placing the Dental Implant
The next step in the process, is actually placing the dental implant within your mouth. If this is when you’d like our sedation dentistry services, you’d be put under anesthesia at this time, while everyone else is completely numbed. During the implant placement process, there are a few steps that can vary as every implant case is different. During this surgical process is where the titanium implant is inserted into the jawbone. This portion of the implant is also called the “fixture” or “implant body” as it is the part that will ultimately hold the rest of the implant in place. Once the fixture is placed in the bone, the doctor will either cover the implant with your gum tissue, or immediate-load the fixture, which in other words means to put a crown on top of it. If we cannot immediately load the implant (which may happen in more complex cases as we want to make sure the implant integrates with the bone first) then you’ll be fitted with a “flipper” that will act as your temporary tooth in the meantime.
Recovery After Surgery
Recovery is a very important step in this process. Dental implant fixtures have a very porous texture to them, sort of like what the outside of a coral reef looks like. The crevices and small holes in the surface of the titanium are there so when the implant is placed, the bone can actually grow around and hug onto the implant. This doesn’t happen overnight though and if the implant is moving around, the titanium will never integrate with the bone itself, hence why recovery is so vital. The average time it takes for the implant to integrate with the bone is around 3 months, at which time, barring any infection, the implant will be as sturdy in your mouth as your actual bone is! Instructions for each case may vary though so you should use this as a guideline and get exact instructions for your case by our team.
Attaching the Restoration
Once the fixture is fully integrated into your bone is when it’s time to complete your dental implant process. This final step is actually restoring the implant, by creating what is called an “abutment” and seating your dental crown on top of it. The abutment, which is a slim titanium post, is attached to the fixture via an internal screw or cemented on. Since the implant fixture is below the gum line, the abutment is the metal part that sticks out of the gums, which is what we use to attach your final crown to. Once the crown is seated and adjusted for your bite, the process is completed and you now have a permanent solution for your missing tooth!
Do You Need A Dental Implant?
Although dental implants aren’t the solution for every missing tooth, it’s a revolutionary way to restore biting function back into many people’s lives these days. The technology involved is ever improving and when you maintain good oral hygiene with your implant and continue regular dental check-ups, your implant could actually last longer in your mouth than your natural teeth! Our team here at Phan Family Dentistry are professionally trained to provide dental implant solutions to patients in the Alexandria, Virginia area and have been doing so for quite some time now. If you’re missing teeth and may need an implant, please feel free to reach out to our office and schedule your comprehensive exam.