From Booneville to Bondurant, dental implants have been changing the lives of people all across Des Moines for years now. But with countless dental offices throughout the area, many of them offering dental implants, how can you know which one to trust your smile to?

If you’re like most people, getting dental implants isn’t a throwaway, spur-of-the-moment decision – it’s a major investment in quality of life for you. When you’re undergoing major surgery and spending thousands of dollars on it, you want to make sure you’re working with the right dentist – and we’re here to help you do that.

Back to Basics: What Are Dental Implants?

Let’s start by taking a step back and talking about the basics of what dental implants are. “Dental implants” refers to a restorative dental procedure that provides you with a permanent replacement for one or more missing teeth. These implanted teeth look and function just like the natural teeth that they’re replacing.

Dental implants come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and they can replace any tooth in your mouth, from a molar (the big teeth at the back of your mouth) to an incisor (the thinner teeth at the front of your mouth). They can also be placed in both the upper and lower jaw.

These prosthetics are incredibly strong and the implant base is made out of titanium, which is a biocompatible metal that your body will safely accept. Dental implants are placed directly into your jaw bone where they act just like natural tooth roots, anchoring your teeth in place and making biting, speaking, smiling and chewing possible.

Who’s A Good Candidate For Dental Implants?

Most patients with good oral health will qualify for dental implants.

However, sometimes, there are additional procedures required before they can be placed. Often, in patients that have been missing teeth for over 6 months, bone grafting will be required. A natural tooth places a consistent weight and pressure on your jaw, which keeps it healthy and strong. When you are missing teeth, the jaw bone no longer needs to support your tooth, so it slowly degrades, weakening your jaw bone and often leading to further tooth loss.

Bone grafting helps to replace the missing bone so your dental implant has a firm foundation. If you’re thinking about getting dental implants, keep in mind that bone grafting is a separate procedure and the recovery time can take up to 6 months before you are healed for implant placement.

Why Can’t I Just Get Implants From My Regular Dentist?

Maybe you can! But if you live in one of Des Moines’ smaller communities, your local dentist may have only studied as a general dentist. In that case, they won’t have the skills or qualifications to provide you with dental implants, and you’ll have to either ask them for a referral or seek out a qualified dentist elsewhere in Des Moines.

How to Find a Specialist for Dental Implants in Des Moines, Iowa

The answer is: consultations! A lot of people think of consultations as a formality, but they’re just as important as the treatment itself. A consultation is your chance to find out not just how much the treatment will cost, but also what you can expect from a dentist in terms of their process and qualifications.

Some patients that I’ve talked to have said that they feel uncomfortable “grilling” dentists about the specifics of a treatment, but rest assured that any dentist that’s worth seeing will get it. It’s not rude or demanding to want to understand what your treatment will involve and feel confident that you’re getting impeccable care.

So, without further ado, here are the tips you should follow to find a great dental implants specialist in Des Moines.

Scrutinize their reputation

A dentist can say a lot about themselves on their website or when you talk to them, but the only way they can control what other people say is by doing a great job and earning a stellar reputation among their patients. When you’re looking for someone to restore your smile, you should take care to look at the practitioner’s reviews – and not just the positive ones. Those reviews are an honest gauge of the level of service you can expect to receive

Ask for referrals

Now, due to patient confidentiality, you won’t always be able to get a dentist to let you talk to one of their previous dental implants patients, but it doesn’t hurt to ask. It’s true that you’re almost certainly going to be referred to a patient who had a positive experience, but there’s still value in hearing why they were so pleased with the treatment they received, and how life has been with their restored teeth.

Examine their expertise

Not all qualified dental implants specialists are equal! While you’re looking for a specialist, you should always ask if they’ve earned any awards, whether they maintain membership with industry associations, and how much additional specialized education they’ve received.

See the technology they’re using

If the scanners and equipment at the dental office you’re visiting look like they’d be right at home in the 70s, that’s a big strike. Just like phones and computers, dental technology has jumped forward by leaps and bounds over the past decade, and there’s no good reason to be examined and treated with old technology if you can avoid it.

The latest dental technologies aren’t just less bulky and more comfortable – they offer higher imaging clarity and accuracy. That’s especially important for dental implants, where it translates into safer, less-invasive surgery with a lower chance of complications.

Get details about their sedation options

Sedation plays a major role in keeping you comfortable both during and after your dental implants treatment. When you’re looking for a specialist to work with, it’s an added bonus if they offer multiple sedations options and more advanced solutions for controlling how long the numbing effects last for.

How Are Dental Implants Placed?

Implant Surgery

Once you’ve decided that dental implants are right for you, and you’ve selected a dentist to work with, you’ll schedule your implant surgery.

During the procedure, an incision is made in your gums, in the area, the implant will be placed. Once the small section of your jaw is exposed, the titanium implant is drilled deep into the jaw bone, using leading-edge dental technology. Sedation during the procedure is an option however many patients do not need sedation for implant placement. Having the tooth removed is actually more difficult for people than placing the implant because there is less tension. However for those who prefer to be sedated, laughing gas or oral sedation is available.

Once the implant is placed, your gums are sutured to assist in healing and the initial part of the procedure is finished. Be sure you have a friend or family member ready to help drive you home after the initial surgery.


After the implant placement, you will need 4-6 months to fully recover. During this time your gums will heal and form tightly around the implant. The implant itself will be stable and secure in your jaw once the swelling is reduced and over time, your jaw bone will grow and fuse to the implant, in a process called osseointegration. This provides more stability as the implant truly becomes a replacement tooth root in the jaw.

Crown Placement

Your dentist will check to ensure everything is healing the way it should and once you have fully recovered from surgery, the last step is to screw your dental crown to the metal implant to complete the procedure. Your dental crown will look, act and feel like a real tooth. It will be color-matched to fit your smile perfectly. Once your dental crown is placed on top of the implant, your procedure is complete. You can now eat, smile, speak laugh and chew the way you used to with your natural teeth.

Bring Dr. Lawson’s Expertise To Your Smile

Want to find out more about the process we use for dental implants here at Lawson Dentistry? Take a peek at our dental implants treatment page – you’ll be able to see a step-by-step walkthrough of our holistic approach to implant dentistry and learn more about the extensive experience Dr. Lawson brings to every patient. And if you have more questions, you’re certainly welcome to fill out the form below and tell us how we can help.