Dental implants have a 95% success rate and can last a lifetime. That’s good, but it doesn’t mean we can take success for granted. Instead, it’s important to be aware of the factors that can influence the success or potential failure of dental implants and marshal them so that your implant is among the 95% that are successful.

Here are 5 key factors that influence dental implant success rate and some things you can do to help at home. 

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Jawbone Density

Dental implants have a slightly higher success rate when placed in your bottom jaw compared to your top because your bottom jaw naturally has a higher bone density. However, the biggest factor when looking at jawbone density as a determining factor for implant success usually has more to do with how long you’ve gone without replacing your missing tooth or teeth. When you have a missing tooth, the jawbone in which the tooth’s root lived is no longer receiving stimulation. Just like failing to use muscle results in smaller muscles, failing to stimulate your jaw bone results in it beginning to diminish. When this occurs, your bone becomes fragile and is more prone to fracture and there simply is not enough bone to house your dental implant.

Your implant could also fail later in life due to osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is a medical condition where the normal process of your body absorbing and replacing bone is interrupted and your body can’t replace the bone as fast as it is being absorbed. In those who have dental implants, osteoporosis could cause your implant to fail.

Another determinant is age. Children are not candidates for dental implants partially because their jawbone is not fully developed. Besides that, children’s teeth move around as they lose their baby teeth, get their adult teeth, and when orthodontics are in play. Implants are permanent and do not move like natural teeth. Check to see if you are a candidate for dental implants.

Gum Disease

It’s not just missing teeth that influence your bone level. Your health makes a big impact on your bone levels and density. When you aren’t practicing good oral hygiene, your risk of gum disease (periodontitis) is elevated. Gum disease occurs when bacteria build up on your teeth and gums. You might notice it first with gums that bleed when you brush your teeth—this usually happens in the first stage of gum disease, gingivitis. When gum disease is left to fester, the bacteria will eventually begin to eat away at your jawbone leaving you without enough jawbone density for implants.

Since implants act very similar to natural teeth, your risk of gum disease doesn’t go away after your implant is placed. If you develop gum disease after you already have the dental implant, called peri-implantitis, your implant could fall out just like a natural tooth could.

Smoking

Smoking isn’t just bad for your overall health, but it’s bad for your implants too. Especially during the dental implant process. Tobacco and nicotine cause the blood vessels in the mouth to construct and narrow leaving less room for blood flow. Less blood flow means a reduction in the amount of oxygen going to the bone and tissues in your mouth. With less oxygen, the healing process is severely stunted and osseointegration—the process wherein the implant fuses to the jawbone—is unlikely to occur. If your implant can’t heal, your body will reject the implant post and you’ll have an implant failure.

In addition to smoking impacting your healing capabilities, smoking cigarettes has a strong connection to gum disease. Since tobacco and nicotine interfere with the body’s ability to bring oxygen to your bone and tissues, your body has a harder time keeping those tissues alive and promoting health. Smoking increases the risk of infection, too, because smoking compromises your immune system. As if that isn’t enough, the constricted blood vessels don’t just carry less oxygen, they carry fewer white blood cells, too.

Diabetes

Diabetes is another risk factor in dental implant failure or success. Those who have diabetes have a harder time regulating blood sugar which can cause more sugar to reside in your saliva. Due to this, the risk of gum disease is substantially higher. To make matters more complicated, diabetes and gum disease are reciprocal, meaning that having diabetes can increase the severity of gum disease, and gum disease can increase the severity of diabetes. It’s always a good idea to talk to your doctor about the connection between gum disease and diabetes and to get both treated for optimal health.

Diabetes can make it more difficult for your body to heal and the risk of infection is higher in those with diabetes, further complicating dental implant success.

Poorly Taken Impressions

The skill of the dental surgeon who places your implant is another factor of implant success or failure. Taking bad impressions can cause implant failure because the replacement teeth—the restoration that goes on top of your implant—could fit poorly and there could be a space between the crown and the gum. This space leaves room for bacteria to grow and infection to ensue.

What You Can Do to Increase the Probability Dental Implant Success

  • Replace your missing teeth as soon as possible: Replacing your missing teeth as soon as possible decreases the amount of time your jawbone goes without stimulation, reducing the risk of your jawbone receding.
  • Talk to your dentist about osteoporosis: Let your dentist know if you have osteoporosis and learn about your tooth replacement options.
  • Curb gum disease with good oral health: Make sure you are brushing your teeth twice per day, flossing, and making regular visits to your dentist. Removing plaque and tartar will decrease the danger of gum disease and keep your implants, gums, and jawbones healthy.
  • Quit smoking: Not only would quitting smoking do wonders for your overall health, but it will also increase the likelihood that your body won’t reject the implant and your implant won’t fail due to poor healing or infection.
  • Talk to your doctor and dentist about your diabetes. With both doctors in the loop, you can have a higher chance of implant success.
  • Find an experienced dental implant surgeon: Make sure you do your homework to find a dental implant dentist that is experienced and has a high rate of success in placing dental implants. At élan by Dr. Megan Hodges, our implant dentist is highly trained and successful at placing dental implants.
  • Follow post-operative instructions: Make sure to follow all the post-operative instructions to keep the surgical site clean and to give your implant the best chance to heal.

If you do your part, we will do ours, and together we will give you the best chances of dental implant success. To learn more about dental implants in Tulsa, please call (918) 528-3330 for an appointment with an implant dentist at élan by Dr. Meghan Hodges.