If you have a missing tooth or several missing teeth, dental implants may be the solution for you.
Why You Might Choose Dental Implants
Dental implants are small posts that substitute for the root of your tooth and connect to new replacement teeth.
Dental implants are a good option if you have loose or missing teeth from tooth decay, root fractures, clenching or grinding your teeth, gum disease, or a facial injury. They’re also an option if you were born without a tooth or if you have a cleft lip.
If you want to improve your speech, your appearance, what you can eat, and your comfort, dental implants may be the solution for you.
Who Can Get Dental Implants?
To be a good candidate for dental implants, you have to meet certain requirements.
Dental implants may be good for you if:
- You’re an adult.
- You’re an adolescent and your face and jawbone is finished growing, which is often around 16 years old for girls and 18 years old for boys.
- Your jawbone has enough bone to secure implants or your jawbone can handle a bone graft.
- Your gum tissues are healthy.
- You’re in good overall health.
- You don’t smoke.
Your doctor will help you know if you’re a good candidate.
They’ll give you a full evaluation, which may include:
- A comprehensive exam
- Dental X-rays
- 3D images
- Models of your teeth and jaw
What Your Doctor Will Look For
Bone density. Your jawbone needs to be strong and sturdy to be able to hold and bind with the base of a dental implant. If you don’t have enough bone density, you’ll need a procedure to restore it.
Healthy gums. Your gums need to be in good shape to support surgery. If you have gum disease, placing an implant in your jawbone can increase your risk of infection. This makes it more likely that your implant may fail and can be bad for your health.
Your doctor will check to see if you have gum disease. If you do, you’ll have to wait until it goes away before getting implants.
Good overall health. When you have dental implant surgery, you may need anesthesia. To have anesthesia, you need to be in good general health.
Your doctor will review your medical history. They’ll want to know about your medical conditions, and they may ask for a release from your primary care doctor.
Your doctor will ask about any medications you take, including prescriptions, over-the-counter drugs, and any supplements.
Conditions That Make Dental Implants Risky
If you have certain health conditions, dental implants may not be right for you. They may lower your chances of a successful implant and may not be good for your health.
Dental implants may not be a good option if you have:
- Cardiac problems
- Unhealthy gums
- Significant bone loss
- Previous radiation therapy for your head or neck
Other health conditions, like some heart conditions and orthopedic implants, make infection more likely. If you have any of these conditions, your doctor may give you antibiotics to take before your surgery. This may help prevent infection.
Consider the Time Commitment
Getting dental implants may take time. Some implants involve more than one surgical procedure. The entire process may take several months to over a year.
You may see more than one specialist, which may include:
- An oral and maxillofacial surgeon. This is a doctor who specializes in mouth, jaw, and facial conditions.
- A periodontist. This is a dentist who specializes in structures that support your teeth, like your gums and bones.
- A prosthodontist. This is a dentist who designs and fits your artificial replacement teeth.
After your surgery, your doctor will see you for follow-up visits to make sure your implants, teeth, and gums are healthy.
You may need several months of healing before you get your new replacement teeth. With some types of implants, you get temporary teeth to wear while you wait.
If this seems like too much, dental implants may not be the best option for you.