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Dental Implants

Your Smile, Your Life ™

Discover What Dental Implants Can Do For Your Smile

The loss of just a single tooth can eventually destroy an entire mouth. When it comes to replacing lost or damaged teeth, one of the best options for patients in the Fairfax and Oakton, Virginia area is receiving dental implants at Rye Smiles for Life. Unlike removable dentures, dental implants are permanently anchored into the jaw itself, providing a beautiful and durable solution to tooth loss. Dental implants can even be used in combination with cosmetic dentistry treatments and restorative dentistry procedures as part of a complete smile makeover. With more than 25 years of experience in the Oakton area, our implant dentist, Dr. D. Gordon Rye, is recognized as one of the finest in the region.

FAQs

How important are dental implants?

For whatever reason, you may be missing a tooth, or several. Perhaps it happened in an accidental way, or you had to have the teeth pulled as a result of declining dental health. Sometimes, especially when the missing teeth are in the back where we don’t see them as readily, we get used to how it feels not to have teeth back there, and we convince ourselves that it’s not all that important to have dental implants to fill in the gaps.

If you are trying to save money by not replacing missing teeth, you need to consider that not doing anything about it may cost you more in the long run, both in terms of actual monetary cost, as well as the integrity of your facial structure.

Your teeth are for more than just chewing and smiling – their presence keeps your jaw bone from deteriorating. When you have even one missing tooth, the jaw bone wears down over time. This causes all kinds of changes in the appearance of your face. As the vertical line of the face shortens, the mouth area gradually collapses. At the beginning, this may only cause minor issues such as premature wrinkling and an appearance of advanced aging, but as the problem progresses, there may be more major concerns such as the drifting of the other teeth, trouble with eating and digestion, and damage to the joints that hold the jaw together.

If you have one or more missing teeth, you may already be noticing effects like jaw pain and headaches. Without the support of all the teeth, especially the molars, undue stress is put on the jawbone. This stress can easily translate into headaches, which you may not necessarily associate with your tooth loss. You can even develop TMJ from not having a full set of teeth.

Yes, there is some initial cost to having dental implants put in, but when you look at the alternative of letting the situation get worse, you could end up with a whole mouth of teeth that need work, or worse, teeth that end up beyond repair. And don’t discount the self-esteem factor – even if you think you’re used to not having that tooth there, having it replaced will make you feel so much better and more confident about your smile.

Am I a candidate for dental implants?

Implants can seem almost like a magic solution for missing teeth. They look natural, feel natural, and surrounding teeth don’t have to be compromised in the process. If you’ve already had dentures, you may have looked at the option of dental implants and wondered if it could be a better plan for you.

Certainly people who have experienced problems with their dentures not fitting properly have to worry about things that people with implants never have to take into consideration, like problems with chewing or talking. But before you make the decision to switch to implants, you’ll have to be assessed for whether or not you are a good candidate.

Of course, a true assessment will require that you meet with the dentist and get a series of examinations. These will include a full dental exam, a set of dental x-rays, and possibly some scans to determine the state of your jawbone.

In general, however, it’s safe to say that candidates for implants need to have an adequate amount of bone available for the implants to anchor in the jaw correctly. Healthy gums and overall health are also important considerations, as is a strong commitment to a rigorous oral hygiene habit.

The most common reasons that a patient would not be a good candidate for implants involve concerns about health and lifestyle choices. Diabetic patients, for example, may or may not be a good fit for implants, but the chances go up greatly if the diabetes is controlled well and the patient is regulating it both on their own and with the help of their doctor.

Smoking may diminish your chances of being able to have implants. Implants may reject if the mouth is not healing properly, and healing can be slowed by smoking. The dentist may require that you stop smoking and then wait to assess you again at a later date.

If you have lost a tooth or even several teeth through injury rather than through disease or lack of care, it’s likely you’ll be a strong candidate for implants, providing that the rest of your mouth is in general good health and you have a regular oral hygiene routine. Even if the tooth was lost through decay, though, don’t lose hope. There’s still a very high chance that you can have successful implants, especially if you are willing to follow the dentist’s care instructions to the letter.

Are dental implants risk-free?

You will often hear dental implants spoken about in very glowing terms, with strong implications that implants are some sort of miracle treatment. While it’s true that implants provide a very advanced method of permanent tooth replacement, like any other dental work, certain precautions need to be taken to ensure that the implants are well taken care of, so that they can last as long as possible.

The first thing you can do to reduce the risk of problems with dental implants comes long before you have the procedure done. Make sure that you are in good general health and that you are a non-smoker. You should eat a balanced diet, and of course follow a strict and regular oral hygiene routine. Following healthy practices can greatly reduce the risk of your implants not “taking” properly.

Good dental hygiene is also important after your surgery. Your implants will need to be brushed and flossed just as if they were natural teeth, and you will need to be vigilant about keeping your gums healthy.

Grinding or clenching your teeth can greatly increase the risk that your implant will fail. Grinding puts a huge amount of unnecessary pressure on the teeth, and if you have an implant that is healing, you can either break the implant or cause it to move around. One problem is that people who grind their teeth at night may not even be aware that they are doing it, though signs will be there that the dentist can see. When you come in for your dental appointment, if it appears you grind your teeth, that issue will need to be dealt with first to increase the likelihood that your implants will be successful.

Luckily there are some complications with traditional tooth replacement solutions that simply aren’t an issue with implants. For example, you will never have to worry about the problems associated with a poorly-fitting denture. You will not have to worry about losing your teeth while talking or eating, nor will you need to remove your teeth at night.

Implants that are properly taken care of will look and behave like your natural teeth, and will last many years or even decades. If you are concerned about your risk factors, or if you are diabetic or a smoker, come in for an initial assessment and get some advice on the best way to proceed. The sooner you get professional advice, the sooner your smile can be restored in every sense of the word.

Should I Replace My Bridge or Get Dental Implants?

Recently one of my patients was struggling with the decision of whether to replace an existing bridge with a replacement bridge or with dental implants. I explained the pros and cons to her and she is considering her options. With the increasing popularity of dental implants (due in large to technology improvements which enable dentists to place dental implants with more predictable results than in the past), there are many people in her situation, grappling with the question of what is the best solution to their dental problem. Here are the considerations when trying to decide whether to replace your bridge with a replacement bridge or dental implants:

Pros of Replacement Bridge:

  • A replacement bridge will be less expensive than dental implants.
  • You are familiar with the functionality of and care for a bridge, so you won’t experience much change in your oral hygiene habits.

Cons of Replacement Bridge:

  • The average life of a new or first bridge is about 12 years, although some of our patients have bridges that have lasted 30+ years).
  • Life span length is dependent on care & supporting natural teeth stability.
  • The average life span of a second bridge is about 9-12 years. The second bridge life span usually is not as long as the patient’s original bridge. This is because the factors that contributed to the original bridge failure have been exacerbated with function over time.
  • A replacement bridge can fail, 60% of the time due to the loss of one of the two teeth that support it.

Pros of Implants

  • Easier to maintain & perform home care
  • Implants have a 95-98% success rate over a 30 year time span (dependent on patient care)
  • Stabilizes bone & reduces or eliminates loss
  • Lower “Lifetime” cost

Cons of Implants

  • Higher Initial Cost
  • Known risks associated with any oral surgical procedures

 

How Long is the dental implant recovery time?

Getting dental implants is an exciting thing. Especially if you’ve been missing one or more teeth for a while, seeing your smile complete again for the first time is a wonderful experience. Of course, the way your smile looks is only one aspect of the benefits of implants. Having a full set of teeth is important for your overall health, and can greatly impact the health of your mouth and jaw.

It is essential when you get dental implants to understand the recovery timeline, so that you will be prepared for the temporary changes you will have to make to your lifestyle after the procedure. Naturally, every patient is different and every procedure unique, so you will be given advice for your specific situation at the time of your consultation, but in general terms, here are a few things you can expect.

If you’re only having a single implant, the procedure will not affect your daily routine very much. You will probably not even experience any swelling, though there may be some soreness around the area for a day or two, and that can be controlled with pain medication. You should be able to return to work or your normal schedule the following day.

If you are having an All-on-4 procedure, it is likely that there will be some swelling that will return to normal within a few days, and you will probably need pain medication to help you for about that same length of time. You should be able to return to your normal schedule after about three days, depending on your tolerance level.

For the first month after you get your implants, you will need to be somewhat careful when eating,and avoid foods that are difficult to chew. It takes time for the bone to start growing around the implant, and you want to make sure the implant stays in the correct place while this is happening.

The part of the implant area that takes the longest time to heal is the gums. Those who have a history of poor gum health due to medical conditions, smoking, or unhealthy diet will find that their gums will take much longer to heal than those with healthy gums. Although it only takes a few days for you to be able to return to your normal life, your gums can take many weeks to heal, and may be quite swollen for some time. This is normal and is nothing to be alarmed about.

 

Do Dental Implants Require Maintenance?

Everyone should see their dentist and hygienist at least twice each year, whether or not they have implants. Like any dental restoration, dental implants require diligent oral hygiene to ensure they last a lifetime.

A single implant is cleaned like a natural tooth, with regular brushing and flossing.

Implant supported bridges that replace a few teeth are cleaned like tooth supported bridges, brushing and flossing with a floss threader.

Overdentures supported by two to four dental implants require special brushes and floss to clean the implant attachments as well as the overdenture.

Why not have my dental implants placed abroad on a “dental vacation?”

If you are considering a “dental vacation” with one of the companies which have sprung up to provide implant procedures in other countries for a fraction of what they cost in the United States, consider the following issues:

  • Language barriers can be a problem. Unless you just happen to speak the language of the country you’re going to, it’s not safe to assume the staff at dental practices there will be able to communicate with you. Needless to say, you should not accept treatment from someone unless you can fully understand each other.
  • Standards may be different. Not all countries have the same standard of medical and dental training. If you are traveling to an unfamiliar place, it can be difficult to know for sure what training the dentist has had. Dental implant procedures are complex, and you want to be absolutely sure you are under fully qualified care.
  • Complications can be worrying. Although most dental practices around the world will ensure that every effort is made to complete a procedure safely, as with any medical procedure, sometimes unexpected things can and do happen. If that were to happen to you, would you feel comfortable being abroad, or would you rather be in your home country?
  • Corrective issues can be impossible to pursue. If you get dental implants abroad and something goes wrong with them after you get back to the United States, getting any useful help from the dental practice can be very difficult, unless you’re willing to travel back there again for follow-ups.

There are many benefits to having dental implant procedures done in your local area, and the cost may be lower than you think. Your peace of mind is worth it, and so are your teeth. If you’re going to go through the trouble to get the smile you deserve, then you also deserve to have treatment you can trust, in an environment where you will be completely comfortable, and where you can relax knowing that you’re in good hands.

 

Case Studies

rhonda

Smile Makeover with Porcelain Crowns and Dental Veneers Fairfax VA

Rhonda had felt self-conscious about her smile most of her adult life. She wanted to look beautiful and to be able to smile freely in her professional life. Dr. Rye designed and custom-made Rhonda’s new smile in two short appointments. …

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schneiderg2013

Addressing Missing & Malformed Teeth with Dental Implants Fairfax VA

This patient was a teenager referred to us by her orthodontist as she neared the end of her orthodontic treatment. She was missing one maxillary lateral incisor, and had a malformed adult tooth on the other side. She had a …

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Smile Restoration with Dental Implants Fairfax VA

dorothyaftersmileWhen Dorothy first visited us, most of her posterior teeth (her molars) were missing. She had completed chemotherapy and radiation treatments for breast cancer treatment about 8 years previous to her visit. About five years after her cancer treatment was …

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kristenopensmile

Complete Smile Makeover with Sedation Dentistry Fairfax VA

Kristin was a childhood patient of Dr. Rye’s but had left the practice for an extended period of time after getting married. When she first came back to see Dr. Rye, she had broken molars and her gums were swollen. …

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mary

Treatment Plan to Address Symptions of “TMJ” with Gum Recontouring & Dental Implants Fairfax VA

Mary was a recent college graduate when she first visited our office. Her father had planned on giving her a new car to congratulate her on her graduation, but she wanted a new smile instead. Mary had been through years …

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In Depth

The Dental Implant Process

Unlike a denture or crown, which can replace only the top of a tooth, a dental implant is used to restore the root of a missing tooth. Before beginning the implant process, we evaluate your medical and dental history, conduct …

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Benefits of Dental Implants

Because of the numerous benefits of this remarkable treatment, our dental implant patients throughout the Northern Virginia and Oakton region report implant dentistry has restored them to better health and a more active lifestyle. Dental implants are permanently anchored into …

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Upgrade Your Dentures to Dental Implants

Traditional, removable dentures used to be the standard for replacing teeth when most or all of the teeth were missing. If you have worn dentures, or are still wearing them now, you are probably all too familiar with issues like …

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How an All-on-4 procedure works

If you need several or even all of your teethreplaced with implants, you are probably worried about the discomfort involved, the cost, and how the end result will look and feel. However, it is important to note that you will …

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Single Dental Implants Versus Bridges

If you are considering your choices for replacing a missing tooth, you have likely thought about two major options: a dental implant, or a bridge. While each case is treated on an individual basis and there may be reasons …

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