Dental Implants — St. Louis, MO
A State-of-the-Art Solution to Tooth Loss
In today’s modern world, more and more people are trusting in dental implants as the ideal choice for long-term smile reconstruction. It’s not hard to understand why, either – implants have an overall success rate of around 95%, and many new “teeth” last for a lifetime.
The implant itself must be inserted into healthy jawbone, which is best performed by a highly trained oral surgeon like Dr. Moreland. He will coordinate with the patient’s general dentist to ensure the most successful results possible, helping them regain a healthier smile and a reinvigorated quality of life in the process. Please contact our oral surgery office in St. Louis, MO if you have any questions or if you’re ready to schedule a consultation.
Why Choose Dr. Stewart E. Moreland, DMD For Dental Implants?
- Surgery Performed by Highly Trained Oral Surgeon with Decades of Experience
- Advanced Dental Technology Used for Precise, Long-Lasting Results
- Flexible Financing Options Available to Make Dental Implants Affordable
What Are Dental Implants?
Natural teeth are composed of two parts: the visible crown that you see when you smile, and the hidden roots underneath the gumline. Traditional tooth replacement options like dentures and dental bridges only replace the crowns of missing teeth. Without the root structures, these options are far less comfortable, strong, and long-lasting than home-grown pearly whites. That’s why dental implants are widely considered the ideal option for tooth replacement: these restorations replace the entire structure of missing teeth to mimic them as closely as possible in every way.
Dental implants consist of an implant post, an abutment, and a final restoration. The small, screw-shaped implant post is inserted into the jawbone to replace the roots of a missing tooth. Made from biocompatible materials like titanium or zirconia, the dental implant post fuses with the jawbone to provide a sturdy, lifelike foundation for the replacement tooth or teeth it supports. The abutment is secured to the top of the post, where it fastens the custom-made crown, bridge, or denture into place. Rebuilding missing teeth from the roots up like this gives you a smile that looks, feels, and functions just like natural!
The 4 Step Dental Implant Process
Replacing both the root and crown of a missing tooth gives you a solution that closely mimics your natural teeth. However, doing so requires a much different process than that of getting a dental bridge or denture. Typically speaking, the process for getting dental implants requires four main stages that are completed over the course of several months to a year. While this may seem like a very long time at first, it is this process that gives your dental implants the potential to last a lifetime. Every patient’s treatment plan will look slightly different, but you can generally expect these four steps:
- Initial consultation (and any necessary preliminary procedures)
- Dental implant placement surgery
- Osseointegration and abutment placement
- Delivery of final dental implant restoration
Initial Dental Implant Consultation
The first step to rebuilding your smile involves your initial consultation. If you have good oral and general health, you will likely be a good candidate for dental implants; however, you still need an examination. This also includes taking digital X-rays and a CT scan of your mouth to access your oral health. Your lifestyle and medical history are also discussed to ensure there are minimal risk factors for implant failure.
Based on the information of the exam, you may need additional preliminary procedures before your implant posts are placed, like bone grafting or a sinus lift. Dr. Moreland will create the successful foundation you need for your dental implants.
Dental Implant Surgery
The CT scans from your initial consultation are used in combination with computer-guided technology to pinpoint the precise location for your implant posts. Sedation or anesthesia is used as Dr. Moreland opens your gum tissue to expose your jawbone. Depending on the extent of your tooth loss, he’ll place one or more implant posts into your jaw in predetermined areas. Once the posts are in place, a small protective cap is placed over the implant post(s) and your tissue is sutured closed so you can begin healing.
Dental Implant Osseointegration & Abutment Placement
The long-term success of your new smile relies on your jawbone’s ability to support the posts. The implants act as new roots, encouraging new bone growth. Over the next several weeks, a process called osseointegration occurs, which allows your bone to fuse to the posts. This creates the stability you need for your restorations while also allowing the implants to potentially remain in place forever.
After your jawbone has healed, you need a second minor surgery to attach special fixtures to each post. The abutments are connector pieces between the posts and the restorations. Typically, it only takes about 2 weeks to recover from this step. During this time, your dentist will be working on your permanent restorations.
Delivery of Dental Implant Restorations
Dr. Moreland will collaborate with your dentist to help create high-quality restorations. Your dentist will use an impression of your mouth to design your new teeth. A dental lab will carefully craft them to ensure they meet your exact needs. After they are ready, you will visit your dentist to have them attached to your dental implants.
Benefits of Dental Implants
Because dental implants are essentially designed to replicate the whole structure of a missing tooth both above and below the gumline, they provide a wide range of benefits that other tooth replacement options simply cannot. Not only to they offer vital support to the jawbone structure and help preserve oral health well into the future, but they also provide a sturdy foundation for the replacement teeth, allowing for optimal eating, speaking, and smiling throughout all of life’s little moments. The final results are so seamless, both functionally and aesthetically, that you’ll likely forget they aren’t even natural after some time has passed. Here are some of the best benefits of dental implants in St. Louis!
- Easy oral hygiene – Getting a regular denture requires you to learn a whole new routine of cleaning your prosthetic every morning and night. For the most part, dental implants function like real teeth. As a result, you’ll be able to clean them like you did your natural teeth: daily brushing and flossing.
- Boosted confidence – Once in place, your implant-supported replacement teeth will look, feel, and function just like your healthy, natural smile. That means you’ll have the confidence to speak and smile in every situation. You can also eat all of your favorite foods without worrying about unseating a slipping denture.
- Youthful appearance – The roots of natural teeth stimulate the jawbone through biting and chewing. Without this stimulus, the body redirects the nutrients necessary to maintain jawbone density to other parts of the body and starts to resorb these oral structures. As your jawbone weakens, your facial features begin to droop and wrinkle, making you look older. Dental implants preserve the jawbone, preventing this deterioration.
- Jawbone preservation – In addition to a sunken, aged facial appearance, lack of jawbone stimulation can increase the risk of oral health problems, including further tooth loss and gum disease. Fortunately, dental implants in St. Louis stimulate the jawbone like real teeth, keeping it healthy and strong.
- Self-supporting solution – Traditional dental bridges require the removal of healthy tooth structure to provide support, and traditional dentures place a lot of pressure on bone and gum tissue that can lead to that sagging facial shape around the mouth that is so often associated with denture wearers. Dental implants are 100% self-supporting, so they won’t compromise your gums, jawbone, or remaining tooth structure.
- Longer lifespan – Recent studies have suggested a link between the number of teeth an individual has and a longer life expectancy. Because dental implants perform all of the duties of real teeth, it’s reasonable to believe that they lead to a longer lifespan.
- High success rate – When placed by an expert implant dentist in St. Louis like Dr. Moreland, dental implants are successful in more than 95% of cases.
- Long-lasting results – Conventional bridges and dentures have to be replaced every ten years at most, and repaired or adjusted even more often. In contrast, dental implants can last for two or three decades on average. With proper care, some patients are able to keep their newly repaired smiles in place for the rest of their lives!
- Saved money – Purchasing specialized cleaning products and adhesives, as well as paying for frequent repairs, makes traditional tooth replacements actually more expensive in the long run compared to dental implants. With implants, a one-time payment should be enough to rebuild your smile for life!
Zirconia Dental Implants
Dr. Moreland is the only oral surgeon in Missouri to offer zirconia implants to replace your missing teeth. As the world’s safest ceramic implant, you can rest assured you are making an excellent choice for your smile. The high-quality material has a long-term survival rate, added strength, and no metal materials, which is ideal for those with metal allergies or sensitivities. During your initial consultation, Dr. Moreland will help you discover if this unique type of dental implant is right for your smile.
Understanding the Cost of Dental Implants
Every dental implant treatment is unique. Not only will the number of teeth you need to replace vary from another patient’s, but the specific teeth you need to replace can also influence the final treatment cost. With that said, dental implants are often considered the most cost-effective tooth replacement option available today. Implants are the only restorative treatment that replace missing teeth from the roots up and can last for multiple decades with proper care. Keep reading to learn more about the cost of dental implants in St. Louis.
Preliminary Treatments & Dental Implant Surgery
Before getting dental implants, some patients must first undergo preliminary treatments, such as gum disease therapy or a bone graft. Although these procedures help ensure the success of implant treatment, they do add to the overall cost. After any preliminary treatments are completed, the next step is implant placement. This oral surgery, which often involves anesthesia, can be performed by an experienced implant dentist in St. Louis like Dr. Moreland and incurs its own cost.
The Parts of Your Dental Implant
The number of teeth replaced and the materials used will also influence the cost of your implant treatment. Most dental implants are made from extremely durable material such as titanium or zirconia. However, just like there are differences between a standard car and a luxury sedan, some implant brands and materials are higher quality and last longer. During an initial consultation, Dr. Moreland will gladly share details about the quality materials she uses for implant posts, abutments, and restorations.
Final Dental Implant Restoration
The type of restoration used to replace missing teeth also affects the final cost of dental implants in St. Louis. The three major types of implant-supported restorations are:
- Crown – Missing just one tooth? A custom crown on top of a single dental implant can fill the gap in your smile.
- Implant Bridge – For larger gaps, two dental implants plus a bridge can restore your smile.
- Implant Denture – Four to six dental implants can support an implant denture and restore an entire row of missing teeth.
Does My Dental Insurance Cover Dental Implants?
Unfortunately, many dental insurance plans still do not cover implant treatment. However, every plan is different and there are some common exceptions. For instance, preliminary treatments such as gum disease therapy or a bone graft procedure are often covered by insurance. The crown, bridge, or denture that your implants support may also be at least partially covered by your insurance. If you would like assistance understanding what’s covered and what’s not under your insurance plan, do not hesitate to ask us! Our knowledgeable team will be happy to help make sense of your insurance plan and maximize your benefits.
Making Dental Implants Affordable
Even if you don’t have dental insurance, there are still options available to reduce the costs of dental implants in St. Louis. For example, many of our patients find flexible financing plans offered by CareCredit to be extremely helpful. CareCredit helps millions of patients across the country break down the cost of dental care into manageable monthly payments. Qualified patients can expect low to no-interest payment plans that make it easy to afford elective dental procedures. If you are interested in knowing more about CareCredit financing, ask our staff for details.
Dental Implant Technology- 3D Conebeam Scanner
The surgical placement of dental implants is a precise service that requires comprehensive and confident planning on the oral surgeon’s part. That’s why Dr. Moreland has chosen to invest in a revolutionary 3D Conebeam Scanner here in St. Louis. This technology creates three-dimensional, panoramic images of a patient’s skull and jawbones, capturing every detail down to the locations of facial nerves. This valuable information leads to a precise surgical guide that avoids potential pitfalls and leads to the greatest degree of success for the patient’s new teeth.
The Kodak 9000 3D – Pano + Conebeam Scanner
At the oral and maxillofacial surgery office of Dr. Stewart Moreland, we’re proud to utilize plenty of state-of-the-art technology to deliver the best treatment results possible. This modern approach includes the Kodak 9000 system, which can diagnose potential dental issues with exceptional accuracy and confidence.
Unlike a traditional CT scanner, this three-dimensional tool utilizes cone beam (CT) technology to create comprehensive, exhaustively detailed 3D images while minimizing a patient’s exposure to radiation. It enables our team to perform a much more extensive range of diagnostic care and treatment at one time, reducing the need for multiple, time-consuming appointments. Also, by being able to focus more specifically on certain areas of the smile and bone, we can reduce radiation to the smallest amount possible.
We are proud to be able to offer this unmatched level of detail and understanding to our St. Louis specialty practice! Now, it’s easier than ever for Dr. Moreland to explain the particulars of certain treatment plans, address patients’ questions, and even share X-rays with the referring doctor, allowing for successful collaborations and highly positive treatment outcomes.
Bone Grafting Procedures
When a patient is struggling with long-term tooth loss, bone deterioration becomes a serious concern that may make it more difficult to successfully position dental implants. Thankfully, Dr. Moreland offers advanced dental implant procedures that can assistance in the form of bone grafting. Bone material will be harvested from another part of the body or a bank, and our team will ensure a smooth, comfortable transferal process that leads to success.
Maintaining & Caring For Your Dental Implants
Although getting dental implants is among dentistry’s most complex procedures, taking care of them after they’ve been placed and restored is pretty straightforward. Basically, the best ways to keep them functioning and looking their best are the same as what you should do for natural teeth. Although dental implants cannot get cavities, gum infections and other problems like implant failure can still develop. As a result, regular maintenance is extremely important if you want to protect your investment. If you have questions about how to keep your implants in top condition, visit our patient information page or contact us.
Make Oral Hygiene a Priority
Every day, you need to make time for oral hygiene in your routine. Twice a day, brush for two full minutes; this amount of time ensures that plaque is removed from most of the teeth’s surfaces. Then, you also must floss at least once a day to clear out plaque and bacteria from in between teeth. These small tasks are critical for making your dental implants last for decades.
Eat a Healthy Diet
The food you eat can also fuel the bacteria that live in your mouth. Excess sugary, starchy foods are not just bad for your body in general, but they also promote harmful growth of the bacteria responsible for gum disease. If you stick to fruits, vegetables, and other nutritious foods and steer clear of processed food, you can reduce the impact on your restored smile.
Break Bad Habits
Do you tend to chew on pencils, ice, or other hard objects? When you have to open packaging, do you use your teeth? These habits may be difficult to break, but you need to try so that your implants don’t suddenly break away from the jawbone. Smoking or using tobacco products can also interfere with your implants’ long-term success.
Protect Your Dental Implants
Sometimes damage can occur to your smile that’s out of your control. Perhaps you clench or grind your teeth while you sleep or you play a potentially dangerous sport for your teeth. In these cases, your general dentist can provide a nightguard or mouthguard to keep your implants out of harm’s way.
Schedule Regular Dental Checkups
Even if you have no natural teeth left, it’s still important to see your general dentist at least twice every year for a cleaning and checkup. If there’s any problem with your implants, then Dr. Moreland can try to address it long before it causes permanent damage to the jawbone or gum tissue.
Advanced Dental Implant Procedures
A strong jawbone supports dental implants the same way a solid foundation supports a house. If there’s a problem with the jawbone, osseointegration may not take place, and the implants will fail as a result. Before beginning your dental implant procedure in St. Louis, Dr. Moreland can strengthen and otherwise prepare your jaw with bone grafting, sinus lifts, and other treatments deemed necessary. Contact us today to learn more about these advanced techniques for preparing the jawbone for dental implants.
Osseointegration is a process where dental implants fuse with the bone and other surrounding tissue. It’s a crucial step for keeping your new teeth as stable as possible. However, there needs to be a certain level of bone tissue already present in the jaw for osseointegration to take place. Since the jawbone starts to resorb after tooth loss, there’s a good chance that bone density levels have already started to fall. If Dr. Moreland finds that there isn’t enough bone to support implants, he will likely recommend bone grafting. By taking bone tissue from another part of your body (or a donor’s body) and placing it in the weakened area of the jawbone, it is possible to reverse bone loss and make implant surgery viable.
The upper back jaw naturally has lower bone density, and it tends to be very close to the sinus cavity. These facts can complicate dental implant placement, which is why a sinus lift is often necessary. The procedure is similar to a bone graft in that it involves placing new material in the area that needs to be strengthened. However, it also involves pushing the sinus membrane up and away from the mouth, thus creating the space we need to place dental implants. It usually takes about 4 to 12 months to recover from a sinus lift, as which point implant surgery can be performed.
The osseointegration process relies on your body’s ability to heal properly. Depending on the state of your health, we may need to take extra steps to ensure that your recovery goes as smoothly as possible. We can take platelet rich plasma – PRP for short – and apply it to the surgical site. The platelets in PRP contain growth factors that will speed up healing in the area. This has two major benefits: it significantly reduces the wait time so that you can get your new teeth sooner, and it reduces the risk of suffering from an infection after the procedure.
If there’s simply not enough room in the jaw for dental implant posts, ridge expansion may be called for. This involves dividing the ridge bone into inner and outer segments, then wedging them apart so that graft material can be placed between them. This effectively widens the jaw so that implant placement can proceed. We may or may not be able to place implants on the same day as ridge expansion; it depends on your situation, and we’ll have to consider all of the available options before making any kind of plan.
Dental Implant Failure & Salvage
Dental implants are consistently successful. In fact, they do well in over 95% of cases. However, implant failure does occur on rare occasions. If you ever suspect that something is amiss with one of your replacement teeth, contact our practice right away. Dr. Moreland will evaluate the situation and recommend a treatment. Hopefully, we will be able to save your implant and enable you to continue enjoying a healthy, confident smile for years to come.
Dental Implant FAQs
Before you’re ready to commit to rebuilding your smile with dental implants, we’re sure you still have questions. Below, you’ll find answers to some of the most common ones we receive about this state-of-the-art tooth loss solution, but if there is anything else you’d like to know, don’t hesitate to give our office a call. We’re happy to share any information you need so you can make confident decisions about your dental care.
How Long Does It Take to Get Dental Implants?
The answer to this question depends on a lot of factors and is always different from patient to patient. Generally, the more implants a patient is receiving, the longer the process will take. A patient getting a single implant who has a healthy jawbone can probably be finished in three to four months. On the other hand, for a patient who needs multiple implants as well as a bone graft, the process might take closer to a year. We can give you a more definitive timeline when you come to see us for a consultation.
Does It Hurt to Get Dental Implants?
Thanks to our use of the latest techniques and technology, most patients report feeling a little pressure during the placement procedure, but nothing resembling pain. We use local anesthetic to numb a patient before we begin, and thanks to the extensive planning we do beforehand, we’re able to avoid any sensitive nerves in the jaw as well.
Am I Too Old to Get Dental Implants?
Dental implants are a viable treatment option for any patient dealing with tooth loss, regardless of their age. Whether someone is in their teens or their 70s, as long as they have a strong jawbone and decent oral health, we can safely place dental implants.
How Long Does It Take to Recover from Dental Implant Surgery?
While every case is slightly different, most patients can resume their normal activities the day after dental implant surgery. You may experience light bleeding and swelling, but this should stop after the first few days. Take prescribed or over-the-counter pain relievers as directed by Dr. Moreland to relieve any mild discomfort. In addition, avoid hitting the gym for the first week or so, as strenuous exercise could delay healing. After approximately six months, your implants should be fully healed and fused with your jawbone.
Do Dental Implants Decay?
No. Dental implants in St. Louis are artificial and not made of enamel, so they cannot get cavities. However, you still need to practice excellent oral hygiene even if you have dental implants. Your remaining natural teeth are still susceptible to tooth decay and your gums can still become infected. So, be sure to continue brushing twice a day, floss daily, rinse regularly with mouthwash, and visit our office for a dental checkup every six months.
Do Dental Implants Make You Look Younger?
Yes! Dental implants can make you look younger and more vibrant. Many people do not realize that the force of biting and chewing spreads through tooth roots to stimulate the jawbone. When your teeth go missing, your jawbone loses that stimulation and begins to deteriorate. Without a strong, thick jawbone to support your facial structures, you may eventually appear more wrinkled, with a sunken-in face and fine lines around your mouth. Dental implants replace missing tooth roots and stimulate the jawbone to make you look younger. In fact, implants are the only tooth replacement option that restore teeth from the roots up.
Is There Anything I Shouldn’t Eat with Dental Implants?
One of the biggest benefits of dental implants in St. Louis is that they restore nearly full chewing power, so you can enjoy all your favorite foods. However, you will have to temporarily adjust your diet after implant surgery. For the first couple of weeks, avoid foods that are hard to chew. In addition, do not consume alcoholic, sugary, or acidic beverages, and do not use a straw. Once your implants are fully healed, you can eat almost anything you could eat with natural teeth. However, you should still avoid or exercise caution around chewy or sticky candy, which can loosen or dislodge your restoration. Meanwhile, chewing on nuts and ice can damage both implants and natural teeth alike.
Can I Get Dental Implants If I Smoke?
Getting dental implants can be the perfect time to finally kick the habit! While it’s possible for smokers to undergo implant treatment, they do have a higher rate of dental implant failure. Smoking, chewing, or vaping tobacco causes dry mouth, slows down healing, and can interfere with the implants’ ability to fuse with the jawbone. Smoking can also cause dry socket, a painful condition in which the blood clot that protects the implant site becomes dislodged. If you cannot completely quit tobacco, implant dentists in St. Louis generally recommend abstaining from smoking for at least two weeks before implant surgery and waiting to resume the habit for at least two or three months afterward.
Dental Implant Post-Op Instructions
To ensure you enjoy a fast and comfortable recovery after getting dental implants in St. Louis, we’ve included everything you need to know below. By sticking to this brief guide from your implant dentist, you’ll help your mouth heal quickly and minimize any discomfort throughout the process. Of course, if you ever have any questions or concerns, you’re always welcome to give our office a call.
What to Do Directly After Implant Surgery
Right after having dental implants placed, it’s extremely important that a blood clot forms on the surgery site(s), as this is the first essential part of healing. To make sure you don’t accidentally interfere with this, you should:
- Not spit for the first 24 hours
- Do not drink with a straw
- Do not smoke for the first 24 hours
- Keep your tongue and fingers away from the surgery site(s)
Common Side Effects
You will likely experience the following for the first few days after dental implant surgery:
- Minor bleeding. You can lessen this by gently applying gauze to the area. This may occur for multiple days, but it will gradually taper off.
- This will mostly happen during the first 72 hours and may be present for up to a week. You can place a cold or warm compress against the face to manage this, just make sure to take breaks after about 10 minutes so you don’t accidentally damage the skin.
- Slight pain. A little bit of oral pain and tenderness is normal, but this should be easily alleviated by taking medication. If you’re prescribed medication, be sure to use it as directed.
You’ll want to primarily eat soft, non-abrasive foods immediately after surgery, so we recommend stocking up on the following items before your procedure so you don’t have to go to the store while recovering:
- Mashed potatoes
- Ice cream (make sure it doesn’t contain nuts)
- Soup (not extremely hot)
- Scrambled eggs
As you heal, you’ll gradually be able to resume your normal diet, but it’s best to avoid chewing on particularly hard or crunchy foods near your implants.
Starting the day after surgery, you can brush your teeth like normal, just be very careful around the surgery sites. You’ll also be asked to rinse 2 to 3 times a day with saltwater, as this will lower the amount of harmful bacteria in your mouth, keeping you safe from infection. While using mouthwash is OK, it’s best to avoid those that contain a high level of alcohol, like Scope or Listerine. These can irritate the surgery site(s) and dry out the mouth, increasing the risk of infection.
What to Do After Your New Teeth Are Attached
Once your new teeth are in place, the tricky part is over! To maintain your implants, all you’ll need to do is take care of them like real teeth, as in try to brush and floss every day and visit your dentist at least twice a year for a checkup. Immediately after you receive your teeth, your gums may feel sensitive as they adjust, but this can usually be managed with OTC pain medication and should dissipate after a few days.