Many adults experience tooth loss; whether it is due to an acute accident or a chronic issue like gum disease, missing teeth are common reasons for visits to the dentist. Not only can missing teeth affect your confidence levels and your speech, they can be detrimental to your oral health as well. Because there are medical implications with having missing teeth, many dental patients wonder whether or not they are candidates for implant dentistry.
What Are Dental Implants?
A natural tooth has a root. This root connects to the jaw. A dental implant mimics a natural tooth but instead of a root, an implant has a screw. This screw is placed into the jawbone and then bonds with your natural bone. Implants are bases for artificial teeth, commonly called crowns. A crown is custom-made for you. It matches the rest of your teeth and is made to fit the shape of your mouth.
Implants have been a part of dentistry for over thirty years. They are the strongest dental devices available for artificial teeth and produce the most natural-looking results.
Am I a Good Candidate for Dental Implants?
While your dentist will have the final say regarding whether or not you are a good candidate for dental implants, there are few factors that he or she will look for to determine your candidacy:
- Because dental implants need to fuse with your jawbone to anchor an artificial tooth (a crown), you will need sufficient bone density. This is one of the most important eligibility-determining factors. For example, because children’s bones are not fully developed, they are usually not good candidates for dental implants. If you do not have the bone density required for dental implants, sometimes a bone graft can be performed.
- Implant dentistry requires surgery. As is the case with any other surgery, being in good, overall health is incredibly important. If you smoke, drink abundantly, or suffer from diabetes, you will likely not see the same levels of success because these factors affect oral health negatively. Your dentist may suggest that you cease smoking and drinking for a period of time in order to ensure that your implant surgery is a success. Pregnancy can also affect your oral health, so you may need to wait until the end of your pregnancy to receive an implant.
- When your implant fuses with your jawbone, your gums will act as support. They need to be healthy so that they can support the implant during the crucial healing process. If you suffer from periodontal disease, you run the risk of a dental implant failure.
- You must practice good oral health habits. Brushing and flossing daily, as well as regular visits to the dentist, are crucial; they are even more important when you have a dental implant.
- Bruxism is the medical term for teeth clenching. If you suffer with teeth clenching, your success rate could decrease as the force from clenching could harm your crown or implant.
Questions to Ask Your Dentist
When making the decision to receive an implant, it is important that you seek out a dentist that has experience in implant dentistry. Do not be afraid to ask questions. Here are a few questions you can ask your dentist prior to the procedure:
- How long have you been working with dental implants?
- Will I be under local or general anesthesia?
- Can I return to work immediately?
- What foods are safe to eat following the procedure?
- What is your success rate?
- Do you have before and after pictures?
- Will there be more than one dentist involved in my procedure?
- How long will the procedure take?
- Will I require follow-up visits?
- Do I need to do anything prior to the procedure?
A dentist experienced in implant dentistry will have no problem answering your questions. Aside from the after-care specific to healing, one of the best things that you can do for your dental implants is to practice good and consistent oral hygiene. Brushing and flossing daily can help you avoid infections around your dental implants. With flossing, brushing, and scheduling regular appointments to meet with your dentist, your implants can last a lifetime without needing to be replaced.