Dental implants are rapidly becoming the standard of care for tooth replacement. One of their benefits is that most people are good candidates for dental implants. However, not everyone is right for the procedure. So how do you know if you’re one of them?
Here is a quick guide to dental implant candidacy.
If you have lost one or more teeth, or you’re facing the loss of teeth, then there are only three essential criteria you have to meet to be a candidate for dental implants:
- Be an adult whose jaw has finished growing
- Be in good health for surgery
- Not be in the first trimester of pregnancy
Dental implants become integrated with your bone in a process known as osseointegration. Osseointegration of an implant could potentially interfere with jaw development, so it is recommended that you wait until after your jaw has finished growing before you get dental implants. If you need tooth replacement before this, alternatives like a dental bridge or removable denture can serve in the meantime.
The implant procedure is surgery, and therefore you need to be in good health. We will ask you about your health history as well as any medications you might currently be taking. Don’t forget: this includes any over-the-counter medications and oral supplements you might use regularly.
Pregnancy changes the way your body heals and responds to infection. In addition, there is potential risk to the baby from an implant procedure performed during the first trimester. In fact, it’s usually best to wait until after the baby is born before getting a dental implant.
While meeting the above three criteria means that you’re a candidate for dental implants, in some cases, you might need additional treatment to get the best results from your procedure.
Healthy gums and good oral health are ideal for dental implants, so if you have gum disease or other oral health problems, we might want to treat them before placing dental implants. This includes treating cavities in natural teeth, which can serve as a source for bacteria that can impact your implants.
We will also assess the bone density and amount of bone in the areas where implants will be placed. A dental implant is an artificial tooth that depends on your bone for support, and if there’s not enough, we will have to use a bone graft to build up the bone. A bone graft can come from a donor site on your body, or be made of processed material.
Overall, dental implants have a very high success rate (98% or more in some clinical studies), but there are some things that might affect your implants’ chance of success. You might be more likely to experience implant failure due to:
- Smoking and tobacco use
- Alcohol use
- Substance abuse
- Prior radiation treatment
- Certain chronic diseases
- Some medications
Tobacco use can be doubly negative for dental implants. Not only does is increase your risk for periodontal disease, but it impacts your body’s ability to heal, especially bone healing. This can increase your risk of implant failure (especially failed osseointegration) by three times or more. It’s recommended that you quit tobacco use altogether, but at a minimum, you should quit for one month before and two months after your implant procedure.
Alcohol and other substance abuse can also increase your risk of dental implant failure. At a minimum, we will recommend that you abstain from drinking alcohol for at least 72 hours after your implant procedure.
If you’ve been treated with radiation for cancer, you might be at an increased risk for a rare complication known as osteonecrosis of the jaw. However, recent research suggests this might not be as big a risk as we once thought. We’ll consult with your oncologist to determine your risk.
Some chronic disease can interfere with bone healing. Anemia, diabetes, chronic kidney disease, and others may make it harder for your body to integrate the implant.
Medications can also impact your bone healing. Common medications like antidepressants, anti-inflammatories, and osteoporosis medications have been linked to implant failure and complications.
Clenching and grinding your teeth is hard on your implant, just as it’s hard on your natural teeth. If you are a bruxer, we will take steps to protect your implants from damage, and may recommend TMJ treatment.
Of course, the best way to know if you’re a candidate is to be evaluated in person by our Tulsa implant dentist Dr. Meghan Hodges by calling (918) 528-3330 today at élan.