Dental implants are growing in popularity as the “dental restoration of choice” for thousands of patients seeking a zero-compromise, truly permanent solution for the negative impacts of tooth loss. Dental implants go far beyond the effectiveness of dentures and bridges, which not only offer less in terms of performance and aesthetics but also even create a high potential for oral infections; to top it all off, these other more conventional solutions must eventually be replaced; a dental implant will last you the rest of your life (with the proper care, and under normal circumstances).
Going far beyond your “looks”, tooth loss is a much bigger problem than most realize. People with missing teeth suffer every day. If you’ve recently lost even one tooth, you’ll soon notice that chewing food becomes more difficult, even painful. It won’t be long before your ability to speak is impaired as your jaws move out of proper alignment (they depend on your teeth heavily to stay in place), and you struggle to be understood. It’s not just your jaws that get out of place; your remaining healthy teeth will even start to move out of position as the gaps created by lost teeth allow them “free reign”, exacerbating the already serious problems of jaw alignment and increasing the likelihood of infection (your teeth are designed to fit together one way; otherwise your bite force will be poorly distributed, damaging your teeth and inviting infection). This will lead to increased tooth loss; eventually, your face will “cave in”, because teeth play an important supportive role in maintaining the shape of your face.
Obviously, if you’ve experienced tooth loss, you want to avoid these outcomes, so now you’re considering dental implants (which we offer in our Baytown, TX dental practice). However, dental implants require intensive oral surgery to be placed, and they depend on your body (specifically, your jawbone and oral tissues) to stay in place and to do their job, which is to virtually completely replace your teeth, and approximate their look and function. This means that you must meet certain health criteria to get dental implants, or risk complications during the placement surgery, or even failure of the implant itself.
Can I Get Dental Implants?
We should first make clear that what follows don’t constitute “requirements”: everyone has a different “ideal” health profile, and your ability to undergo the surgery and successfully support the implant will be different from someone else. Only your dentist (along with your dental care team at Dynamic Dental Solutions) will be able to evaluate your suitability for receiving dental implants, and if any significant problems can be addressed to make it possible for you to get them. Therefore, the following information should serve more like a set of guidelines than a checklist.
The only “requirement” associated with dental implants is you must be an adult to receive them. Although many dental procedures are appropriate for anyone of any age, this is not one of them. Your jawbone and the oral cavity must be fully grown and stable to support the implant, and the mouths of children and teenagers are simply too unstable as they grow and develop.
To get dental implants, you should be healthy enough to undergo the intensive surgery required for their placement. Generally, this means you should be free of serious diseases, especially those that are characterized by chronic inflammation (which can compromise your oral tissues and even destroy your jawbone; that is how gum disease works, and it is the most frequent cause of tooth loss in the US; more on this later). Your dentist will be on the lookout for diseases such as Type II Diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, autoimmune disorders, and high blood pressure. All of these present the potential for complications during surgery and may create an increased likelihood of implant failure.
Additionally, you must be able to tolerate general anesthesia. Some people simply don’t handle “going under” well, and this can result in serious and potentially deadly complications during surgery. If you’ve had problems with anesthesia before, you should let your dentist know.
Oral Health for Dental Implants
This is where most people seem to have problems, and it isn’t a surprise. Dental implants need good, strong bone density in your jaw to work properly and avoid failure. The problem is that most people who have lost teeth didn’t lose them to injury; statistically, advanced gum disease is the number one cause of tooth loss. Advanced gum disease (periodontitis) causes tooth loss by deteriorating your gums, oral tissues, and your jawbone. This means it’s likely you may not have a jawbone that can support an implant.
Your dentist may be able to address this by recommending a procedure such as a bone graft, which transplants bone from one part of your body to your jawbone. This will allow you to accept and reliably support the implant; the implant itself will encourage the regrowth of bone lost to gum disease.
Want to Know If You Can Get Dental Implants?
The only way to determine if you’re a suitable candidate for dental implants and to determine if you can benefit from their “zero compromises” return to the normal functioning of your teeth and their appearance, give us a call to schedule a consultation!