Dental implants are permanent restorations of missing teeth. While this method of replacing lost teeth is quickly becoming the gold standard for tooth replacement, there are some dental patients who may have challenges that could prevent them from having a successful implant experience.
Proper oral hygiene is assumed for candidates who opt for dental implants. Good oral hygiene helps ensure the success and longevity of the implant. Poor oral hygiene practices not only lead to implant failure, but they also cause a variety of avoidable dental problems. However, there are patients who have excellent oral hygiene practices, yet still may not be the best candidates for dental implants.
Early Failure of Dental Implants
In general, dental implants have a solid success rate. Over the past 10 years, the success rate of this procedure has been reported to be in the range of 90 – 95%. Still, not every dental implant is going to be successful. There are many factors involved in the success or failure of any given implant procedure.
Some factors that can impact the success of an implant have to do with the age of the patient, the size of the implant, quality of bone at the implant site and the area in which the implant will be placed. A patient with gum disease is not a good candidate for this procedure. Should an infection develop around the implant, it will fail. However, if the gum disease is treated, your dentist may recommend that you move forward with the procedure.
Patients who smoke are often not considered for dental implants until they stop smoking at least for a while before and after the procedure. Smoking restricts blood flow to the gums and this can slow down the healing process. The implant procedure is one in which the healing process is a vital part of whether or not the implant will be successful. People who smoke may still be considered for the procedure if they can stop smoking at least a week before the procedure and for at least two months after the implant has been placed. The cessation of smoking aids in the all-important healing process.
The jawbone must be able to support the implant. If there is not enough healthy bone available, the implant cannot be placed in the jaw. Patients living with osteoporosis may not be eligible for an implant. With this disease, the bone density decreases. Patients with osteoporosis often have fragile bones and the risk of fractures is higher than with patients who have denser bone.
Some medical conditions may also preclude a patient from undergoing the dental implant procedure. Often, patients with autoimmune disease or medical conditions that cause the body to heal slowly will need to turn to more traditional methods for replacing missing teeth. Diabetics and patients with rheumatoid arthritis are examples.
The implant procedure requires osseointegration, a process by which the bone in the jaw fuses or integrates with the implant. Slow healing can prevent this process from happening.
Certain medications can also interfere with optimum healing for the implant process and lead to failure. It is important to make sure your dentist is aware of all medications you are taking, both prescribed and over-the-counter options. Researchers have found that heartburn medications and antidepressants may interfere with osseointegration. These medicines may reduce new bone growth, which will prevent the implant from fusing with the jawbone.
Late Implant Failure
While there are some indicators that will determine whether or not a patient is a good candidate for the implant procedure, an implant can fail after it has been placed if it doesn’t receive proper care. Most of these types of failures come from poor dental maintenance. You must be able to thoroughly clean your teeth to keep your implant healthy.
Poor oral hygiene can lead to gingivitis and periodontal disease, which will eventually have an impact on the implant. Tartar buildup around the implant will cause pockets to form between the gum and the implant. Though the tooth is artificial, if the condition is not addressed, the implant will fail. Untreated periodontal disease causes gum and bone loss. As with a natural tooth, the implant will get loose in the bone and eventually fall out.
Another important factor in ensuring your implants are successful is choosing a well-qualified dentist to do the implant surgery. Though the surgery itself is minor, you want to make sure your dentist has the experience and expertise to do the implant.
Replacing a single tooth is not as complicated as constructing an implant-supported bridge or denture. The dentist or oral surgeon should know how many implants are needed to support the structure that will replace the missing teeth. If there are too few implants used, excessive stress on the implant can cause it to fail.
Do not be afraid to inquire about your dentist’s experience in implant placement. Find out how many implant procedures are done within a year’s time. You can also ask the success rate and what the dentist feels contributes to that rate.
Be Aware of the Risks
Dental implant surgery is generally straightforward with few or any problems occurring. With that being said, as with any surgical procedure, there are some risks involved. Most risks that accompany the dental implant procedure are minor and do not require extensive treatment.
Infection can occur at the implant site. This is one of the reasons why it is important to make sure that the gums are healthy and there are no signs of gingivitis. If the gums are diseased, implant surgery will need to be postponed until it is cleared up. If infection occurs after the implant has been placed, it is important to see your dentist and get treatment.
Placement of the implant takes precision. Therefore, it is recommended that you choose a dentist or oral surgeon who has experience with placing implants. Injury or damage to surrounding teeth or blood vessels is rare, but it can happen. Nerve damage is another risk of which you should be aware. Nerve damage can cause pain, numbness or tingling in your natural teeth, gums, lips or chin. Implants in the upper arch can cause sinus problems if one should extend into the sinus cavity. A well-qualified dentist or oral surgeon has the training to minimize these risks.
Schedule a Consultation for Recommendations
Dentistry is an ever-evolving field. This means that there are always new ways of performing procedures, new treatments being perfected and new ways of addressing dental issues. If you are considering implants to replace your missing teeth, schedule a consultation appointment. In some situations, patients who may at first seem unlikely to qualify for implants may undergo treatments that will help make implant surgery possible.
Even if you are unable to qualify for implants, there are other options for replacing missing teeth. Your dentist will help you choose the best option so your oral health can be restored. Missing teeth can cause a variety of dental problems if they are not replaced. Traditional dental bridges or dentures provide an affordable solution when dental implants are not recommended.
Aesthetic & Implant Dentistry of Atlanta is your place to turn for expertise and excellence in replacing missing teeth. Our dental team has the skills and knowledge to perform successful dental implants for those who qualify, and for those who do not, we provide alternatives that look aesthetically pleasing and feel natural. Call us today to schedule a consultation appointment and discover the best treatment for replacing your missing teeth.