The Dental Implant Process: What to Expect

If you’re like 120 million other Americans missing one or more teeth, you may be looking at solutions. Missing teeth can make everyday activities like eating and talking a challenge, and may cause you to feel embarrassed about your appearance. 

Amanda Darling, DDS, and the team at Legacy Dental Care in Ballwin, Missouri, offer a lasting solution to these struggles with dental implants. These prosthetic devices look and function like your natural teeth, making it easy to get back to smiling, talking, eating, and laughing without care. 

Dental implants: An overview

When people refer to dental implants, they’re usually referring to both the post and prosthetic cap. Screw-like posts made from biocompatible metal, like titanium, form the “root” of your implant. Your provider implants the post into your jawbone, and as they heal, the post fuses with the bone and functions just like your natural dental roots.   

Once the post has healed, your provider caps the implant with a dental prosthetic, like a porcelain crown or bridge. With the cap in place, your implant and prosthetic work like natural teeth, enabling you to eat, smile, laugh, and talk without fear of the device moving or falling out. 

Dental implants: Step-by-step

At Legacy Dental Care, our exceptional team works together to ensure you enjoy the best implant results possible. Here’s a look at what you can expect each step of the way!  

1. Evaluation

Before beginning the implant process, Dr. Darling evaluates your teeth to ensure you’re a candidate for implants. She looks carefully at the condition of your jawbone, the health of your gums, and the condition of your existing teeth. 

Most evaluations include an X-ray to examine the bone material in your jaw, dental impressions, and a review of your medical health and medication list. Dr. Darling may also match the color of your natural teeth to ensure your final implants look seamless and natural. 

2. Extraction

Some patients may require extraction of remaining teeth. If you have broken, chipped, or damaged teeth that will be replaced by implants, Dr. Darling schedules a time for your extraction. 

If you require an extraction, Dr. Darling numbs the area using local anesthetics. Most extractions are quick, and patients report feeling only a light tugging during the process. Dr. Darling provides recovery instructions, including avoiding drinking through a straw, blowing your nose, or smoking to avoid complications. 

3. Implant 

Before having the post implanted in their jawbone, some patients require added bone material through a process called grafting. If your jawbone is strong enough, you may not need extra bone material; but for those who do, Dr. Darling adds the graft material. You then wait for the graft to heal before adding the implant.

During the implant process, your provider numbs the area and makes an incision in your gums. Dr. Darling then places the post into the jawbone. When the post is in place, she closes the gums over the implant. 

After the post(s) are placed, you’ll recover at home for several weeks to months while the bone heals and grows around the post. Because the metal is biocompatible, the bone and post fuse, making it strong enough to stay in place for years. 

4. Abutment

Once the post is secure, Dr. Darling adds the abutment over part of the implant. This is a piece that holds the prosthetic cap in place. Dr. Darling places this small part just over the gumline, and in some cases, she can add it at the same time she implants the post. 

5. Prosthetic

After your gums and jaw have fully healed, it’s time for your new tooth! Dr. Darling uses the impressions of your mouth and existing teeth to create a prosthetic. Most patients opt for porcelain crowns, which look and feel the same as your natural teeth. 

The entire process can take anywhere from 3 to 9 months, depending on your unique situation. Once in place, you won’t have to worry about added maintenance or care. Dental implants are more durable than natural teeth, giving you added protection against decay and staining. Simply keep your regular dental appointments for routine checkups and brush and floss normally! 

Learn more about the dental implant process and if implants are the right solution for you by contacting Dr. Darling at Legacy Dental Care in Ballwin, Missouri! You can reach our friendly staff by calling 636-203-7519.  

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