Are you a candidate for dental implants?

Dental implants are a great solution for permanently replacing missing teeth. They mimic natural teeth in look, feel, and function to an extent not possible with other tooth replacement options. The average healthy adult is likely a candidate for dental implants, but there are a few limitations to keep in mind.

You’ll need to see Dr. May for a consultation to find out if you’re a candidate, but while you wait, here are 8 ways to get insight into whether implants are the right choice.

1. One or more missing teeth need to be replaced.

Dental implants can replace individual teeth or entire arches. Individual teeth are replaced with single dental implants with crowns. Upper or lower arches of teeth are replaced with implant-supported dentures that support the prosthetic atop four to eight evenly dispersed implant posts. An implant-supported dental bridge is another tooth implant option for replacing consecutively missing teeth within an arch.

2. Gums are healthy, and gum disease is unlikely.

Dental implant surgery cannot be done on inflamed or infected gums. If you have any stage of gum disease, including gingivitis or periodontitis, it must be treated before surgery is possible. If you’re at a high risk for gum disease or have frequently relapsed with periodontitis, dental implant surgery may not be a good solution, as the chances are high it can interfere with proper healing and long-term success.

3. Tobacco use or excessive drinking aren’t habits.

Tobacco use is strongly connected to peri-implantitis, an implant site infection affecting the gum tissue and underlying bone structure. Alcoholism is also detrimental to oral health and can lead to implant failure. Both of these habits can impede your candidacy for dental implant surgery.

You can stop smoking for a period of time before and after dental implant surgery, but consider quitting tobacco permanently for the betterment of your oral, physical, and mental health.

4. You have sufficient bone density in your jaw.

Dental implants rely on the jawbone for support, just like a tooth relies on its root. Your jawbone needs to have enough bone density to support the implant post. Bone loss is a gradual process that happens after the loss of a natural tooth, which is why the immediate placement of an implant following extraction is strongly encouraged.

If you’ve lost a tooth in the past or have been wearing dentures or bridges, it’s possible to rebuild bone density with a bone graft. Your unique situation and the dental implant option being used will determine whether your dentist will perform the bone graft before or during your dental implant surgery.

5. You’re at least in your late teens or early 20s.

There’s no maximum age limit for dental implants, but there is a minimum age restriction. The jawbone isn’t considered fully mature until a person reaches their late teens or early 20s. In most situations, dental implant surgery isn’t recommended until a person’s jaw is finished developing. Placing a dental implant in a still-developing jaw can lead to implant failure or interfere with a person’s bite alignment.

Even if you’re only 18 to 20 years old, don’t let this stop you from seeking a consultation with Dr. May. Your jaw could already be stable enough for a dental implant, and if not, Dr. May can provide an alternative restoration to fill the gap until a dental implant can be placed in a couple of years.

6. No signs of bruxism and jaw clenching.

Bruxism, also known as teeth grinding, is a behavior that can interfere with a healthy, stable dental implant. The pressure from grinding and clenching your teeth and jaw puts an abnormal amount of force on the teeth. If this behavior continues with a dental implant, several things can occur. The implant may not be able to heal, the dental crown could break, or the crown can damage neighboring natural teeth.

If you have bruxism, Dr. May can determine if dental implants are a reasonable option or if an oral appliance or other treatment could make it possible.

7. Good oral care habits are pre-established.

Dental implant surgery is one of the most invasive forms of restorative dental care. It’s imperative that you have great oral care habits established before treatment to ensure your dental hygiene is kept in tip-top shape during healing.

The good news is that dental implants, especially single implants, don’t require any sort of special care. You can floss and brush around them just like a natural tooth, and continue to use normal oral products.

8. No uncontrolled medical conditions are present.

To be a candidate for dental implants, you need to be in fairly good health without any uncontrolled medical conditions. Because dental implants require oral surgery, your body is going to be put through more stress than is typical of other dental restorations. To heal quickly and efficiently, your immune system should be strong, and your body healthy.

If you have a systemic health condition, Dr. May will go over any risks or concerns during your consultation. Dental implant surgery could still be a great solution once your health is stable.

Book a visit with our dental implant dentist in Granite City.

For the best dental implant experience in Granite City, Dr. May and his Metro East Dental Care team are who you want to see. If you’re interested in dental implants and want to know if you’re a candidate, schedule a consultation today to find out.