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Are You a Candidate for Dental Implants?

Before considering a consultation with your dental implant specialist, take a good look at yourself, your health and your habits.

Are you in good health?  If you have diabetes is it under control?  How about hypertension?  Having diabetes, high blood pressure, immunosuppressive disorders, and cardiovascular problems may cause constricted blood vessels leading to decrease blood flow to surgical sites.  Consider taking care of all medical problems first.

Success of dental implantations depends on the state of blood vessels transporting the needed blood for nutritional and oxygen exchanges for healing as well as the state of bone.

Do you smoke?  In addition to the tar, which gets deposited along the gum lines and causes teeth discoloration, there is more than just a cosmetic complication with tobacco products.  Although the exact etiology has not been pinpointed, a strong correlation suggests that the nicotine in cigarettes (which has been proven to constrict blood vessels) causes a decreased blood flow to the implantation sites, impeding the healing process and thereby causing a much higher rate for failure or rejection of the implant.

Consider discontinuing all tobacco products first.  This may necessitate a smoking cessation program, which to be successful, may take 10-12 weeks.  Waiting for 4-6 months for urges to dissipate and improved health to return, will increase the success rate of dental implant placements.

Are you taking biphosphonates for treatment of osteoporosis?  Notify your dentist about this.  It has been

discovered that while this drug can increase bone mass density and reduce fractures in the hips, it is associated with resorption of bone along the jaw.  This would doom your implant procedure to failure.

Do you suffer from bruxism? (Excessive grinding of teeth and clenching your jaw at night)  Let your dentist know (although your teeth may tell on you).  Grinding your teeth puts undue pressure on any dental implants.  However, this problem can be readily addressed by sleeping with a dental guard that the dentist can make from a mold of your dentition to prevent the effects of this grinding.

How long has it been since you have lost the tooth that you want replaced with an implant?  Gaps in dentition due to loss of teeth cause shifting of the surrounding teeth.  In addition to this, the jawbone starts to undergo thinning of the bone in the area of the missing tooth (resorption).  Bone decrease in the implantation site will cause a greater risk of failure from the implant adapting to its surgical site. For the implant to take, the adjacent bone must bond with the implant (osseo integration).  If there is not enough healthy bone at the surgical site, this integration cannot take place.

Should this be your problem, have no worries.  Your dentist has two solutions that can still make you eligible for dental implants. The first involves a special type of implant that sits above the bone but under the gum line.  The second one involves grafting of bone.

When dental implants are inserted properly, they can last 15-25 years.  Perhaps even longer as newer techniques are devised.

So, cheer up!  Having functional, beautiful teeth with no gaps may be yours with treatment from your dental implant specialist.