Who can get dental implants?

Who can get dental implants?

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Getting dental implants can be a life-changing experience for many. It replaces missing teeth, giving the patient the ability to eat as normal, speak clearly, and restoring their appearance. But, it’s not suitable for everyone.

69% of adults in America aged 35 to 44 years old have at least one missing tooth. That could be due to gum disease, decay, a flawed root canal or an accident. By the age of 74, 26% of adults have no permanent teeth left. This means that each year, up to 300,000 people in the US alone get dental implants.[1]

These implants are generally very safe and effective. Success rates are around 90 to 95%, but this success depends on a number of factors. So how do you know if dental implants are the right solution for you?

[1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4028797/

Is your jawbone fully grown?

Implants have a lower chance of success in a jawbone that hasn’t finished growing. An implant in a jaw that still is changing can disturb normal development of the jaw and surrounding teeth. It can create a situation where the natural teeth become non-functional and unattractive. It also may reduce the likelihood of successful bone osseointegration and the tooth remaining stable in the correct position.[1]

[1] http://www.jdionline.org/article.asp?issn=0974-6781;year=2012;volume=2;issue=2;spage=97;epage=102;aulast=Prasad

You have enough bone to stabilise the implants, or you could get a bone graft

If your tooth, or teeth, have been missing for a while, the jawbone starts to recede in that area. The bone is preserved by the pressure and movement from chewing, and when that no longer occurs, the jawbone is resorbed into the body. Most of this bone loss, about 25% of it, happens in the first year, and that continues the longer you leave it. If you’ve had dentures for a number of years and wish to convert to implants, this may be problematic due to bone resorption.

Bone loss can also be caused by periodontitis. Bacteria eat away at the jawbone under your teeth, so if you’ve had gum disease or long term poor oral care, you may have compromised the bones around your teeth.

The other thing that can happen is that the bone can become porous, and lower in density. This is due to a range of diet, hormone, lifestyle and disease factors, as well as tooth loss.

While these are far from ideal, if you can get a bone graft, this may resolve the problem. Bone can be harvested from somewhere else in your body, or synthetic bone (called xenografts) can be used. This replaces lost bone and also stimulates growth in the jawbone. As bone density increases, so does the likelihood of success of the implants.

You have healthy gums and other oral tissues

Healthy gums are vital to the success of this procedure. There must be no tooth decay and no gum disease. If implants are inserted and there is active periodontitis, there’s a risk of infection developing which increases the likelihood of failure.

You don't have any health conditions that may affect bone healing

There are a range of conditions that can slow healing. These include diabetes, metabolic disease, cardiovascular disease, infection of soft tissue, osteoporosis, bleeding diseases, HIV/ AIDS and current radiation or chemotherapy treatments. If you have any of these conditions, they may not exclude you completely but can create complications and decrease the probability of success.

You can’t – or don’t want to wear dentures

There are a range of reasons that dentures may not the best option for you. They move in the mouth, which can cause sores and ulcers. This also limits the efficacy of chewing and eating, which limits your diet. If you can’t risk these factors, you are a good candidate for dental implants.

You want to improve your speech

If your missing teeth or dentures are affecting the quality of your speech, then dental implants can alleviate or resolve the problem. Dentures can move in the mouth, and missing teeth can affect a range of speech processes. Lisping, whistling, slurring of words and poor articulation can all be caused by missing teeth or poorly fitted dentures.

You can commit several months to the process

Dental implants take time. There are multiple appointments spread over several months. While during the time in between appointments you are fully functional, there still must be a commitment from you.

You don't smoke tobacco

Smoking means that wounds heal slower. Nicotine is a vasoconstrictor, which restricts the flow of nutrients and blood. It also increases the risk of blood clots. Smokers face longer and less satisfactory healing processes and more complications. This is why it’s advised that smokers quit smoking for best results.[1]

[1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1323208

Speak to your dental surgeon to see if dental implants are right for you.

Everyone is different. Your dentist should run a series of examinations, imaging and tests to make sure there are no problems that may affect the outcome negatively. And while some medical conditions or poor jawbone health may create complications, it doesn’t mean implants are not an option. Speak to your dental surgeon about what’s right for you.