Am I a Candidate for Dental Implants?
by Dr. Scott Bolding
Deciding how to replace your missing teeth can be difficult. There are several options out there, including dental implants. You need to gather as much information as you can and discuss everything with your dentist in order to know if you are a candidate for dental implants.
Dental implants have many advantages over other options, like dentures and bridges. They are in fact, the only permanent solution to missing teeth. And while they work well for most people, they’re not always right for everyone. Below we will discuss how to know if you are a good candidate for dental implants.
Who is a Good Candidate for Dental Implants?
People with Strong Jaw Bone
In order to be a good candidate for dental implants, you need to have a strong jaw bone.
Most dental implants are endosteal implants. This type of implant is placed into the jaw bone and protrudes through the gums. The implant then uses the jaw bone as an anchor. Endosteal implants are the most secure type of dental implant because your jaw bone grows around it, locking it in place. You don’t have to worry about your implant coming loose or falling out.
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But good candidates for dental implants have a strong jaw bone. You will need to get your jaw evaluated by an oral surgeon to determine if you’re a candidate for dental implants.
If we determine that your jaw isn’t strong enough there are some options to help improve the condition of your jaw bone. You may qualify for bone grafting. Bone grafting is when we replace missing bone with bone from another part of the body. This new bone helps promote bone growth in your jaw. Over time your jaw becomes stronger. Once your jawbone has grown enough, we can then move forward with dental implants.
People with Good Oral Health
Good candidates for dental implants are also committed to good oral health. A healthy mouth both before and after surgery is the other key to a successful implant.
Part of the implant process involves cutting into the gum in order to reach the jaw bone. So, it’s important that your gums are healthy. If you have gum disease or infections, it will be difficult for your mouth to heal after the implants are placed.
You will also need to be dedicated to good oral hygiene after surgery as well. This is important to make sure your mouth heals well and the implant stays secure for the rest of your life.
If you have already been taking care of your teeth and gums by brushing and flossing regularly, then you should be in good shape to move forward with dental implants.
Things that Can Affect Dental Implant Candidacy
Even though most people qualify for dental implants there are a few groups of people who may want to consider other options.
Teens and Kids
You may wonder if their kids are able to get dental implants. Say your son or daughter got in a wreck playing basketball with their friends after school and one of their teeth fell out. After you make sure your kid is ok, the first thing you’re going to do is try to figure out how to replace their missing tooth. You don’t want them to walk around with a gap in their teeth, but you’re not sure what your options are.
Unfortunately, children and teens are not good candidates for dental implants. This is primarily because their jaws are not fully grown yet. Along with their jaw bones not being strong enough, implants can impede jaw growth in children. They can even prevent new teeth from coming in if your kid is still losing their baby teeth.
Typically, the lowest age for dental implant eligibility is 16 for girls and 17-18 for boys. Girls’ jaw bones tend to finish growing faster than boys, which is why they can consider dental implants earlier. Of course, each kid is different and their jaw bone strength will still need to be evaluated by their dentist.
People Who Smoke
Another group of people who may not be eligible for dental implants includes people who smoke. Now, it’s important to understand that getting implants if you smoke isn’t impossible. But you will need to stop smoking for a while if you want to replace your missing teeth this way.
Smoking can cause a lot of problems with dental implants and your recovery after surgery. Tobacco and nicotine prevent the jaw bone from fusing with the implant. This means the implant is more likely to fall out.
Smoking also increases bacteria in your mouth and exposes it to harmful chemicals. This can lead to infections and other diseases. It also interferes with oxygen levels in your blood which slows your recovery time.
In short, while smoking isn’t a definite disqualification for dental implants, it is something your dentist will discuss with you. They will most likely tell you that you need to quit before they will consider dental implants. However, if you are a heavy smoker and it has had an impact on your oral health, they may refuse to do surgery. All of it depends on an inspection of your mouth to make sure you will be a good candidate for dental implants.
What Are Some Things to Think About When Considering Dental Implants?
When you are discussing whether or not you’re a good candidate for dental implants, there is a lot for you to consider. Your dentist will walk you through this process to help you make the best decision for your oral health. We’ve already discussed several factors that help determine whether or not you’re a candidate for implants. Here are a few more things for you to consider.
The biggest thing to think about with dental implants is the time commitment. Thanks to advances in technology the time it takes to receive dental implants has improved. However, recovering from implant surgery can still take a while. You need to wait for your bone to fuse to the implant and for the incisions in your gums to heal.
So, you need to realistically look at your life and decide whether or not you can make that commitment. Of course, if you choose to go ahead with dental implants, you will be trading your time for a new smile and the ability to eat whatever you want. It may be helpful to remember that dental implants are the only solution that lasts your whole life.
The other most common factor to think about is the cost. Dental implants can be expensive in the short term. However, since they are permanent once you get them, you don’t have to pay for anything else. With other options like dentures and bridges, you’ll have to eventually replace those.
Are You a Candidate for Dental Implants?
Dental implants are the only permanent solution to missing teeth. And while most people are eligible, they’re not always right for everyone. It’s important to discuss everything with your dentist before you make a decision. They will be able to help you understand why you may or may not be a candidate for dental implants. If you’re ready to start that discussion our oral surgeons are here to help.