Dental implants have a lot going for them. They can rehabilitate a smile, restore confidence and boost self-esteem. But what are dental implants exactly—and more importantly, who is suitable for them?
While we provide an overview, it might be good to book in with a dentist that offers free consultation appointments to find out more.
So, what are dental implants?
Dental implants are artificial tooth roots made from titanium (a biocompatible metal) that are placed into the jawbone. Over a period of time, the titanium integrates with the bone tissue to form a strong base on which to mount an artificial restoration. Implants can also replace several missing teeth as part of a bridge or even a complete arch of teeth.
Once the permanent restoration is attached, dental implants have the appearance of natural teeth and look and function similarly.
Knowing what dental implants are is essential to understanding whether you’re a good candidate. So let’s take a look.
Dental Implants – Who can have them
The ideal candidate is in good health with sufficient bone for a dental implant to attach to. Inevitably though, when patients have been without teeth for some while or are long-term denture wearers, ample bone will be hard to come by. So why is this?
Because bone shrinkage after tooth loss (resorption) is inevitable. Did you know that the alveolar bone (the bone housing the tooth sockets) loses around 30% of its depth within the first year after tooth loss?
The good news is that inadequate bone doesn’t prevent someone from getting a dental implant. It does, however, mean that they may need to undergo a bone grafting procedure first. This will add time and cost to the implant process.
Alternatively, for those with severe bone loss (atrophy), surgeons can attach dental implants to the zygomatic (cheek) bone instead. However, this is a specialist field and may not be done by your local dentist. Either way, it pays to book a free dental consultation near you to find out your options.
Other reasons why you may or may not be a candidate for dental implants
If you have a chronic illness, such as diabetes or blood clotting disorder, it may not be feasible to have a dental implant—but it depends on how well the condition is managed. Also, if you are severely overweight, suffer from a heart condition, or have had radiation treatment after head or neck cancer, it may not be safe to undergo dental implant surgery. That said, if you get a free consultation at your local dental clinic, they will be able to give you a definitive answer for your specific case.
What about smokers?
Because of what dental implants are and the way they anchor into the jaw, smoking can be problematic.
If you are a smoker, your implant is at risk of infections, bone degeneration, and more.
For this reason, your implant dentist will expect you to stop smoking until the implant stabilises in the jaw. This can take up to 5 months to complete.
What are Dental Implants? The key takeaway
A dental implant is a permanent tooth replacement option anchored down into the jaw. Because the process involves a short surgical procedure and a period of bone fusion, not everyone can have them. Instead, the ideal candidate is relatively healthy, has no underlying medical conditions, and doesn’t smoke.
Schedule an appointment with us today to further learn what dental implants are, how they can help and whether they are right for you.
Note: Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks. Before proceeding, you should seek a second opinion from an appropriately qualified health practitioner.
NCBI – Prevention of Bone Resorption By HA and Collagen Composite After Tooth Extraction
Nature.com: How do different levels of smoking affect dental implants?