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Rye Smiles for Life
10614 Warwick Avenue, Ste A, Fairfax, VA 22030

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 why a particular patient would be better suited to one solution over another, there are some general points to consider when you are are trying to make a decision about which way to proceed with replacing your tooth.

  1. Single implants stand alone, while a bridge requires support from adjacent teeth. Whereas a bridge requires the teeth on either side of the missing tooth to be filed down to accommodate the dental work, a single implant is independent and gets its own support from the jawbone. This is good news for people with a missing tooth who have otherwise healthy teeth, as the integrity of the surrounding teeth does not need to be compromised for an implant.

  2. Implants help preserve your jawbone. One problem with bridges is that they do nothing to replace the root from the missing tooth, and the bone that used to surround the root can begin to deteriorate and weaken, which can cause bigger problems later in life. An implant acts as a replacement tooth root, interacting with the jawbone and keeping it from shrinking away. This in turn provides greater stability not only for the replaced tooth, but for the teeth adjacent to it.

  3. A bridge may make sense in certain situations, but you may opt tohave an implant anyway. If the teeth on either side of your missing tooth are in need of crowns to begin with, you may think that it makes sense just to go with a bridge for replacing the middle tooth. During your assessment, we will discuss whether an implant may be the right choice anyway, helping to reduce the amount by which the replacement tooth has to rely on its neighbors for support.

  4. An implant may produce the most natural result, both aesthetically and medically. Dental implants look so much like natural teeth, people who see you smile will probably not know the difference between your implant and your other teeth. While bridges can often look natural, the best chance of getting the most attractive result lies with implants. In addition, the implant tricks the jawbone into thinking that a tooth root is still there, which is a better situation overall for the health of your mouth.

Leading Edge Technology and Careful Planning Permit Accurate Placement of Dental Implants

If you are missing teeth and are considering dental implants, you probably know that the dental implant process is becoming increasingly more available thanks to technology advances and more dentists who are trained to place natural-looking and completely functional teeth through the use of dental implants. We realize there are some who are interested in how the process works, and for those folks, we are providing a basic explanation of the process.

After we have determined that a patient is a candidate for dental implants, we take a digital CT scan of the patient’s head, to capture an image of the bone and surrounding structure in which to place dental implants. We are using digitally developed surgical guides more frequently to ensure the most accurate placement of the implants. We upload the scan to computer software with implant data embedded within it. The software helps us ascertain exactly where to place implants, and after careful review, we have the lab prepare a surgical guide which we use for accurate implant placement. We have found that the surgical guides provide for a predictably successful result. The surgical guide allows us to place as many as 14 new teeth using as little as four implants in the process, in only one surgical appointment! For patients who need only one or two implants, we usually can place porcelain crowns directly on the implants on the same day as implant placement. For patients who require more than a couple of implants, we can place a temporary conversion prosthesis (see below), which is functionally the same as a full arch of teeth, on the implants. A few months later, we attach permanent porcelain teeth, with no additional surgery required. This approach to replacing missing teeth is often referred to as “Teeth in a Day” or “All on Four.”

A timeline for dental implant recovery

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.

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    8:00 AM – 4:30 PM
  • Tuesday
    8:00 AM – 4:30 PM
  • Wednesday
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Rye Smiles for Life

10614 Warwick Avenue, Ste A, Fairfax, VA 22030

(703) 565-2503