A missing tooth can affect more than the ability to chew – it can also lower self esteem. A dental implant can provide an appealing option for fixing gaps and restoring a beautiful smile. Not only are they durable and long-lasting, they also look very natural.
While dental implants can be a great solution for missing teeth, the procedure is not right for everyone. Who is considered a good candidate?
First, let’s get a quick refresher on dental implants:
A dental implant is a titanium post that is inserted into the jawbone beneath the gum line. It acts as a prosthetic tooth root that allows the dentist to place a dental crown (the visible part of the tooth) on top. Dental implants can replace a single missing tooth or consecutive missing teeth (i.e. one implant can support a single piece containing multiple crowns).
After being inserted, dental implants don’t require more attention than natural teeth. In fact, they may actually require less, since they never decay or have root problems. Flossing and brushing is all it takes for implants to last a long time.
Who is an ideal candidate?
The best way to determine candidacy for dental implants is to have a consultation with a dentist. However, there are a few things that all dental implants patients require. These can be used as guidelines to know if someone may be a good candidate for dental implants.
Good candidates for dental implants:
1. Have healthy teeth and gums
Healthy teeth are free of decay and healthy gums look pink and firm, not red or swollen.
2. Have sufficient bone density to support the dental implant
This one is very important. Without sufficient jawbone density, the implant may not be able to withstand the forces of chewing and may fall out. In some cases, patients may undergo a bone graft (taking a piece of bone from another area of the body and transplanting it into the jaw) in order to increase bone density and become a good candidate for dental implants.
3. Have good oral hygiene
Commitment to good oral hygiene includes brushing at least twice a day, flossing at least once a day, and avoiding smoking and chewing tobacco.
4. Are non-smokers or are willing to stop smoking during the process
Smoking hinders healing in the mouth and increases the risk of complications during and after surgery.
5. Do not severely grind or clench their teeth
Clenching and grinding can put a lot of pressure on dental implants, which may damage them or cause them to fall out.
6. Are not alcohol or substance abusers
Substance abuse increases the likelihood of developing complications, and decreases the likelihood that good care will be taken of teeth and gums.
7. Do not have chronic diseases
For example, patients with uncontrolled diabetes, connective tissue diseases, hemophilia or significant immune deficiencies may be more likely to experience complications. However, it also depends on the severity of the condition.
8. Do not take steroids or bisphosphonate medications
These drugs suppress the immune system, which makes patients more vulnerable to infections during and after surgery.
9. Have realistic expectations
Good candidates understand that the dental implant process can take 4-12 months, and they are willing to commit this amount of time to the procedure.
These general guidelines can help determine whether someone is a good candidate for dental implant surgery. If so, the procedure provides an effective, simple, and natural-looking solution for addressing missing teeth.
For more information on dental implants, reach out to one of our world-class dentists today!