Dental implants are one of the most effective options available to restore your smile’s form and function. Whether you are missing one, several, or all of your teeth, this tooth replacement option can provide a strong foundation for restoration.
Like any other treatment option, certain conditions can complicate your candidacy for dental implants.
If you are still determining whether you could be a candidate for dental implants, it is helpful to understand what types of conditions can affect your candidacy and what you can do to address them.
Natural teeth stimulate the jawbone to keep it strong and maintain density. When you lose teeth, the underlying jawbone starts to get thinner horizontally and then smaller vertically through the process of jawbone resorption.
Over long periods, this can lead to insufficient bone mass to support dental implants. This issue is prevalent among individuals who have spent years without teeth, especially in patients who are completely edentulous (have no teeth) and wear traditional dentures. While dentures allow for improved eating and speaking, they do not stimulate the jawbone. The loss of bone over time makes it challenging for dentures to fit properly, and patients lose their confidence in speaking and chewing.
In contrast, dental implants, like natural teeth, stimulate the jawbone and can prevent jawbone resorption. If you already have bone loss, you may need bone grafting to reinforce and augment the jaw. This process transplants bone material to the area so that it has enough volume to accept dental implants.
Osteoporosis is a condition that causes the weakening of long bones. It primarily affects elderly women who are postmenopausal. Osteoporosis has not been found to be a contra-indication for dental implant placement. However, if you have been on a medication for a long time to treat your osteoporosis (such as Fosamax, Boniva, Prolia, or Reclast), then this may lead to problems with bone healing.
Periodontal disease, or gum disease, is a dental issue caused by excess proliferation of bacteria inside the gum tissue. The buildup of plaque (a sticky film of bacteria) causes inflammation of gums that easily bleed and, if left untreated, can lead to loss of bone around teeth and eventually tooth loss. Risk factors for this problem include poor oral hygiene, smoking, genetics, certain medications, and diseases that cause immunocompromisation.
The same process that causes bone loss around teeth, can also cause bone loss around dental implants, also known as peri-implantitis. Thus, the presence of uncontrolled periodontal disease can lead to early implant failure,
If you currently have any symptoms related to gum disease, your oral surgeon will likely choose not to move forward with implant surgery until your gum disease is under control. More frequent and aggressive scaling and root planing, and improved oral hygiene can help eliminate gum disease and prepare you for dental implant placement.
Patients with uncontrolled diabetes may be at increased risk of complications related to dental implant treatment. Diabetes diminishes the body’s ability to recover properly from surgery, increasing the risk of infection and premature implant failure.
Patients with uncontrolled diabetes are encouraged to seek treatment with their medical doctor and make appropriate lifestyle and diet changes. A HgA1C less than 7 is considered optimal to undergo dental implant placement.
Bruxism or teeth grinding is a condition in which a person unintentionally places an enormous amount of pressure on their teeth in their sleep. Bruxism can damage the implant restorations (crowns, full arch restorations) and cause chipping of materials. The screws that connect the crowns to the underlying dental implants can also break. If you grind your teeth, you will likely need an occlusal guard or other treatment to prevent damage to your replacement teeth.
Medications that Can Impact Dental Implants
Some medications have been shown to cause issues with osseointegration or how dental implants fuse with the jaw bone. These include:
- SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) used to treat depression
- PPIs (proton pump inhibitors) used to treat GERD or reflux disease
- COX-2 inhibitors used to treat inflammation
- Immunosuppressant or chemotherapeutic medications: Cyclosporin A, methotrexate and Cis-platin
- Hormone replacement therapy
- Blood thinning medications warfarin or low molecular weight heparin
Only a Professional Can Evaluate Your Candidacy
While these conditions can complicate your candidacy and introduce the need for additional procedures, a general list cannot determine whether dental implants are right for you. It is essential to contact an experienced oral surgeon for a consultation to understand your case better.
At Inland Empire Oral & Maxillofacial Surgeons, our team will carry out the evaluation and 3D imaging necessary to develop an effective treatment plan. If a full and functional smile interests you, learn more about dental implants.