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Although extremely common, missing teeth can be a significant problem, affecting both the function of your teeth and the appearance of your smile. There are lots of reasons why someone might lose one or more teeth, from decay and oral diseases to accident and trauma. Whilst there are also a number of ways in which missing teeth can be replaced, there is one solution that is considered superior to any others – dental implants.
Dental implants are small, titanium posts that are surgically placed into the bone of the jaw in the space beneath where the missing tooth would ordinarily be. This surgery, which is carried out under local anesthetic (often with sedation), sees the titanium post taking the role of the missing tooth root. Once implanted, the bone heals around the post, securing it permanently. This takes a number of months to occur and until it does, the implant is susceptible to coming out. In addition, patients have a customized crown designed in the size, color, and shape needed to match existing teeth, and this is attached to the implant post using a special connector. Once in place, dental implants look, feel and behave just like regular teeth.
Dental implants are hugely successful. However, this doesn’t mean that they are necessarily suitable for everyone. There is a range of things that will need to be taken into account to determine whether you are a good candidate for dental implants. These include the following:
Before you can get dental implants, your provider will need to be satisfied that there is no other work that needs to be carried out – such as fillings, crowns or root canal. This is because your teeth and gums need to be healthy and in good condition before you can get dental implants. Any indication of gum disease means that gum health must be bought back under control before dental implants can be placed since this condition can become severe, causing bone and tissue deterioration which in turn will trigger the implant to fail.
Since the titanium posts that will be used to anchor the artificial tooth to your mouth will be inserted into the bone of the jaw, the health of the bone must be comprehensively assessed to ensure that it will heal around the implants properly. X-rays are usually used to assess the condition of the jawbone. If there isn’t enough healthy bone naturally present, it doesn’t mean that you can’t have implants. However, you may need to first have a procedure called bone grafting which encourages healthy, new bone growth that will be sufficient to support the implant.
There is a slight degree of risk with any dental procedure, including dental implants. Before passing your candidacy, you will be asked for information about your past and current medical status. This will include providing details about:
- Whether you are taking any medications currently
- If you have any medical conditions
- If you have had any serious oral health problems in the past
- If you are pregnant, trying to conceive or currently nursing
- If you smoke (dental implants are not recommended for smokers since their oral hygiene routine doesn’t tend to be as robust and smoking can increase your healing time and risk of complications following the procedure)
- If you consume substantial amounts of alcohol
- If you take recreational drugs
- How committed you are to taking care of your teeth, which is essential as dental implants will only be successful if you are completely committed to brushing and flossing your teeth several times each day.
If your provider reviews your medical information and there are reasons why dental implants are unsuitable for you, they will be able to explain what alternatives are available. If you would like more information about candidacy for dental implants, please contact our offices today where our expert team will be happy to help.