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Dental Implants – Virginia Beach, VA

Rebuild Your Smile for a Lifetime

Do you have an all-too-obvious gap in your smile from a missing tooth? That gap is more than a cosmetic problem. Missing teeth can often lead to other oral health problems, malnutrition, and even social anxiety. Whether you have lost teeth due to decay, gum disease, or injury, replacing them is a must. Dental implants in Virginia Beach can permanently fill in the spaces caused by trauma or disease, helping a patient reclaim their complete smile. Contact Smile by Design today to learn more about the unique benefits of dental implants!

Why Choose Smile by Design for Dental Implants?


What Are Dental Implants?

Most tooth replacements, like dental bridges and dentures, only bring back the part of the tooth that you can see – its crown. But most of the tooth – its root – is actually hidden beneath the gums. Dental implants are the only option that replaces the root as well as the crown of a missing tooth. The implant itself is a titanium post that is inserted directly into the jawbone, bonding to it through a process called osseointegration. This creates a strong foundation for us to secure a dental crown, bridge, or denture on top via a metal abutment.

By rebuilding your teeth from the roots up, you end up with a solution that looks and feels so natural, you might forget that you even lost teeth in the first place!

The Dental Implant Process

dental implants being placed in the upper jaw

While dental implants are designed to replace teeth and remain healthy for decades at a time, there is a dedicated process that works to ensure the most successful tooth replacement possible. Before you can begin treatment, you’ll have a chance to speak with our dentists and ask any questions that you have. In the meantime, you can read more about the tooth replacement process ahead of your next appointment. Give Smile by Design a call to set up your next consultation!

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Initial Dental Implant Consultation

Dentist telling patient how dental implants work in Virginia Beach

During your first appointment for dental implants, one of our dentists will sit down with you to discuss your specific needs. Not only does this give our team a chance to confirm specific aspects of your care, (i.e. how many teeth you need to replaced, which ones, etc.) but whether or not you are eligible to receive dental implants in the first place. For example, if you need preparatory treatments to receive dental implants, such as gum therapy or bone grafts, we’ll be able to determine that during the earliest phases of the planning process.

Dental Implant Surgery

Implant dentist in Virginia Beach wearing a mask and scrubs

One of the dentists at Smile by Design will refer you to a specialist for the initial phase of your dental implant procedure. During minor oral surgery, this specialist will administer local anesthetic to remove any sensations during treatment. Then, they make a small incision in your gum tissue in order to insert a small titanium post into the bone. This ensures that your new tooth is as strong as the teeth you already have. Finally, the gum tissue is stitched closed and given time to heal.

Dental Implant Osseointegration & Abutment

Diagram of an X-ray taken showing an integrated dental implant

The beauty of a dental implant is that this post mimics the form and purpose of a natural tooth root. As you heal from your surgery, the post and surrounding bone tissue fuse together to create a firm anchor for the tooth restoration that will eventually be attached to the implant.  This fusion process is known as osseointegration and it is the foundation for your long-term tooth replacement. Moreover, the implant ensures that your jaw remains healthy by stimulating it to generate new bone cells. This also prevents the jawbone from breaking down and changing shape, a common side effect of tooth loss.

Once the implant has fully fused, you’ll go back to the specialist to have the abutment placed. After reopening your gum tissue, this metal connector is attached to the implant so the future restoration can be placed.

Delivery of Dental Implant Restoration(s)

Older woman with dental implants in Virginia Beach smiling

Once enough time has passed and your bone tissue has successfully joined with the post, your Smile by Design dentist will be able to attach your permanent new crown, bridge, or denture, which was handcrafted to match your other teeth in size and color. That way, no one but you and our office will know you even had teeth replaced to begin with! If you’d like to whiten your other teeth before your crown is attached, we have Zoom! whitening available to remove stains on your teeth.

How Dental Implants Can Change Your Life

young woman smiling in the dental chair

Dental implants are unique because they are the only tooth replacement that restores an entire tooth both above and below the gum line. Traditional dentures and bridges only bring back the crown of a tooth, not the root, which makes them much more unstable. With dental implants, a titanium prosthetic root is placed directly into the jawbone, and this is used to support a restoration that shows in the smile. This not only makes implants extremely secure, but it also means they don’t require support from the surrounding teeth and gums, which is a common cause of discomfort with other replacements. In fact, dental implants in Virginia Beach can potentially change your life in many important ways that other options like dentures and dental bridges simply can’t!

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Day-to-Day Benefits

smiling man with a short beard and glasses
  • Eat all your favorite foods again: Options like dentures and dental bridges only restore 25-30% of your biting power. Dental implants can restore 85% or more of your natural biting force, allowing you to easily and comfortably eat all your favorite foods once again.
  • Drink what you like without worry: Drinking hot beverages can potentially warp dentures. With dental implants, you don’t have to worry about that at all!
  • Vastly improved comfort: Dental implants are built and situated like natural teeth, which means they’re just as comfortable! Meanwhile, other options tend to cause gum irritation and tooth sensitivity.
  • Regain a complete, confident smile: Each restoration is carefully custom-made from beautiful, high-quality materials to look incredibly lifelike. Once placed, your dental implant will be practically indistinguishable from the rest of your smile!
  • Stability you can count on: Since dental implants are anchored into your jawbone, they will never slip or pop out of place at embarrassing times.

Health Benefits

woman in a gray shirt
  • Prevent jawbone deterioration: Since dental implants replace the roots of a missing teeth as well as its crown, they prevent jawbone deterioration that naturally comes with tooth loss.
  • Preserve a youthful appearance: Many people who suffer from tooth loss develop an aged, sunken appearance in their facial features. Preserving your jawbone with dental implants prevents this.
  • Easily maintain great oral health: Dental implants can be cared for just as easily as natural teeth, which encourages better oral health and in turn, better systemic health as well.

Long-Term Benefits

happy couple outside
  • Live longer: A complete smile can help you live longer. Studies show that those with 20 teeth or more at the age of 70 have a considerably higher chance of living longer than those with less than 20 teeth at that age.
  • Reliable, long-term success: Even 10 years after their placement, dental implants boast a success rate of over 95%. With the right care, they can easily last a lifetime.
  • Save time and money on your smile: While dental implants have a higher initial cost than options like dentures and dental bridges, they are more cost-effective in the long run since you won’t have to replace them, repair them, or use special products to clean them.

There are plenty of reasons why dental implants are becoming more and more popular every year! If you have more questions about how dental implants can potentially change your life, don’t hesitate to give us a call!

Who Dental Implants Can Help

close-up of a person smiling

Once you’ve scheduled a consultation appointment with your Virginia Beach implant dentist, Dr. Santos or Dr. Folck will perform an examination to see if you qualify for dental implants. Most people are qualified candidates, but adequate jawbone strength and structure is necessary to support the implant. A bone graft procedure may be recommended if there isn’t enough bone density at the precise location where you need a dental implant.

Dental implants are quite versatile and are able to replace any number of missing teeth using a variety of restorations. Which one would be best for you? Our dentists can help you decide based on your particular situation. They will help you choose from the following options:

Missing One Tooth

An implant can be attached to a single, all-porcelain crown using a small metal connector called an abutment. The new tooth will be free-standing on its own and not need to “lean” on other teeth in order to remain in place. Because of this stability, patients can look forward to a tooth that works seamlessly with the rest of their smile.

Missing Multiple Teeth

Missing more than one tooth in a row? Two implant crowns can be placed on either side of the missing ones and used to support additional prosthetic teeth. This is a much more cost-effective option than replacing each tooth with an individual implant, and these bridges are much more natural-looking and stable than traditional ones as well.

Missing All Teeth

Are you missing a large number of teeth or have to contend with an ill-fitting denture that constantly slips out of place? If so, dental implants can be used to support a beautiful denture you’ll be able to rely on for years to come. Implant dentures are secured directly to the jawbone using multiple implants, giving them a stability that a removable prosthetic simply can’t match. Plus, for patients missing an entire row of teeth, they can be restored in just one well-planned visit using the patented All-on-4 procedure.

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Understanding the Cost of Dental Implants

two patients talking to their dentist

The cost of dental implants is usually broken up into two distinct phases: placement and restoration. Because implants are flexible enough to meet the needs of people with varying degrees of tooth loss, the price of these two procedures can be quite different from patient to patient. Certain factors like how many teeth a patient would like to be replaced, where those teeth are located, and if they have insurance coverage can all influence the overall cost of dental implants.

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Preliminary Treatments & Dental Implant Surgery

For some patients, the path to a completely restored smile doesn’t begin until other issues have been handled. If you have gum disease for example, this condition must be treated and controlled before we can move forward with implant placement. In other cases, failing teeth need to be extracted and the site healed prior to starting the process of replacing them. Keep in mind that any preliminary procedure will add to the total cost of treatment.

Once you’re ready, you’ll see a specialist to have the implant placement procedure. We partner with some of the area’s foremost experts because we want our patients to have the best experience and the highest chances of success. In this case, you’ll have to pay a separate fee to the specialist for the placement procedure.

The Parts of Your Dental Implant

During the placement procedure, the specialist will surgically insert the titanium post into the jawbone. In the months that follow, the bone tissue will grow around the post, just like it does with natural tooth roots. Once this process is complete, the specialist will then add a piece called an abutment, which connects the post to the restoration. After this point, you’ll return to our office so that we can begin work on your restoration.

Final Dental Implant Restoration

While implant restorations do tend to cost more upfront than traditional ones, they are usually the best financial option in the long run thanks to their longevity. Regular bridges and dentures typically require periodic maintenance and need to be completely replaced every 7-10 years, costing thousands of dollars over the course of a patient’s lifetime. Implants, on the other hand, can easily last for 30 or more years, and only require consistent brushing and flossing to look and function like new.

Does My Dental Insurance Cover Dental Implants?

In general, dental insurance does not cover the majority of the costs associated with implants. For example, the placement procedure is often not covered; however, some preliminary procedures, such as gum disease therapy, may be. In addition, your restoration may be included in your benefits, which can help lower your out-of-pocket costs. Before we start treatment, we will evaluate your specific plan’s benefits so that you have a clear idea of what you’ll be responsible for paying from the get-go.

Making Dental Implants Affordable

At Smile by Design, we’re happy to work with your insurance and find ways to maximize whatever coverage you’re entitled to. Whether you do or do not have dental insurance, paying for this treatment upfront can feel overwhelming and put strain on your finances. Fortunately, we offer help through third-party financing. CareCredit allows you to make smaller monthly payments with low or even no interest.

Dental Implant FAQs

dental implant being placed in the lower jaw

Want to know more about dental implants in Virginia Beach? We understand! At Smile by Design, we know that implants are a big decision, so we’ve included answers to several FAQs below. But if you have any additional questions that aren’t included here, you can always contact us at any time!

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Are Dental Implants Safe?

Absolutely. Countless studies have shown that dental implants are a safe, reliable way to replace missing teeth. In fact, the surgical-grade titanium used for dental implants is the same material that’s been used in knee and hip replacements for many years.

What Causes Dental Implants to Fail?

Thankfully, with a success rate of up to 98%, dental implants don’t fail very often. However, as a dentist in Virginia Beach, we always inform our patients of the following common risk factors:

  • Tobacco use – Using tobacco drops the success rate to around 85%.
  • Infection – Doing well with oral hygiene and getting regular checkups is the best way to prevent an infection.
  • Gum disease – Implants need healthy gum tissue to support them. Just as gum disease is the #1 cause of tooth loss, it can also lead to implant failure.
  • Clenching and grinding – Wearing a nightguard can protect implants from clenching and grinding forces.

What Is a Bone Graft and Will I Need One?

Dental implants need adequate amounts of healthy jawbone for support, but when the natural teeth are extracted, the jawbone slowly begins to “shrink.” In some cases, when patients have been missing their teeth for quite some time, their jawbone is too thin or too weak to anchor an implant. A bone graft strengthens and fortifies the bone to prepare it for implant surgery.

To determine whether you need this procedure, the specialist who performs your implant surgery will start by taking detailed, 3-dimensional images of your teeth and jaws so they can recommend a bone graft if necessary.

Is Dental Implant Surgery Painful? 

It may surprise you, but many people say that their implant surgery was no more uncomfortable than having an extraction. Also, rest assured that the specialist who performs the procedure has completed many years of advanced training after dental school so they can make the procedure comfortable for everyone. In addition to making sure you’re fully numb before starting, they’ll also offer multiple sedation options.

What Is the Dental Implant Recovery Process Like?

You can expect mild to moderate swelling and tenderness in the gum tissue around the implant for several days, and most of the healing will occur in 5-7 days. Many of our patients say that their pain was very manageable, but we still recommend that you take 2-3 days off to rest. Your surgeon will discuss options for pain medication and give you detailed instructions for caring for the area during your recovery period.

Maintaining & Caring for Your Dental Implant

Happy laughing couple with dental implants in Virginia Beach

Dental implants have the potential to rebuild your smile for a lifetime, but only if you take care of them properly! Thankfully, keeping your dental implants strong, sparkling, and firmly in place is no more difficult than taking care of your regular teeth—no soaking or special cleaning products required! Read on as we go over the five best ways to make sure your dental implants last for many decades to come.

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Make Oral Hygiene a Priority

woman flossing to clean dental implants in Virginia Beach

Dental implants can’t get cavities like natural teeth, but you still need to practice good oral hygiene. If you don’t, plaque and bacteria will build up in your mouth and attack the tissues that help hold your dental implant in place, potentially causing it to fail. So make sure you brush twice a day and floss daily!

Eat a Healthy Diet

Woman eating healthy to care for dental implants in Virginia Beach

With 80% or more restored biting power, dental implants can help you enjoy all your favorite foods again, like apples, nuts, and steak. However, you should still avoid chewing on bones, shells, pits, or ice to keep your restorations strong. Instead, make sure to eat and drink plenty of items that contain vitamin C and calcium. The vitamin C will help keep the gums around your dental implant strong and calcium will fortify your jawbone.

Break Bad Habits

Man damaging his dental implants in Virginia Beach by opening bottle

While healthy habits can help your dental implants last a lifetime, just a few bad habits can dramatically increase your risk of dental implant failure. If you get dental implants, you should:

  • Quit smoking or chewing tobacco, which can keep your implant from fully integrating or leave it vulnerable to serious infection.
  • Don’t use your teeth as tools, even though dental implants are strong, using them to open packages or bottles can cause them to loosen.
  • Chewing on pens, fingernails, and other hard objects, since these items will wear down and weaken your restoration.

Protect Your Dental Implants

Man wearing mouthguard to care for dental implants in Virginia Beach

A sudden blow to the face while playing sports can potentially knock your implant loose. Grinding your teeth in your sleep put excess pressure on your implant and can potentially damage it. That’s why it’s essential you protect your dental implants with a mouthguard. We offer custom-made athletic sports mouthguards and nightguards for bruxism to keep your smile safe on the field and in your sleep.

Schedule Regular Dental Checkups

Virginia implant dentist speaking with patient

Whether you’ve had one tooth replaced by a dental implant or an entire arch, you should come visit us every six months for routine checkups and cleanings. We’ll clean your teeth and implant carefully and monitor their integrity. If any warning signs of issues are detected, we’ll be able to begin treatment right away before they cause you or your implant unnecessary problems.

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