Am I a candidate for dental implants?

Posted by: Jason Hui, DDS, on August 28, 2013

Dental implants offer the most advanced tooth replacement technology available, so many patients want to take advantage of this treatment option. However, in order to get the maximum benefits from dental implants, in terms of stability and longevity, it’s important to be sure that you are an eligible candidate for the devices before having them placed.

An implant dentist is looking for a number of characteristics that increase the likelihood of dental implant success. The most important aspect is the quality of available bone at the dental implant site.

This is such a critical factor because the process by which the titanium dental implant fuses with the bone is integral to the implant’s durability. When that process, known as osseointegration, is successful, the implant becomes a permanent structure in the patient’s mouth.

Unfortunately, inadequate bone can present an obstacle to getting dental implants, yet bone loss is a natural result of tooth loss. When patients have delayed getting implants for too long, they may find that their bone loss has progressed to the point at which they are not eligible for the procedure. Similarly, if the implant site is in an area with thinner bone to begin with, such as the rear of the upper jaw, bone loss will progress more quickly, which can create a challenge to dental implant placement.

Bone loss won’t necessarily disqualify you from ever getting dental implants, though. A procedure known as a bone graft might be recommended. During this procedure, bone is taken from elsewhere in the body, like the chin or hip, and inserted at the implant site to give the existing bone a supplement.Certain long-term issues may affect your ability to get dental implants, too. For example, smokers face a greater risk of implant failure, so your dentist may want you to complete a smoking cessation program before placing the implants.

Also, treatments for certain head and neck cancers can leave the surrounding bone unsuitable for dental implants, so patients with a history of those conditions may also need to get a bone graft.

Dental implants are tremendously beneficial, and nearly all patients can qualify for the devices, although some may require a preliminary procedure first. Contact our experienced team of dentists today to see if you will need any advance surgery before having your dental implants placed.

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