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Are You Eligible For Dental Implants? Four Determining Factors

Dental implants represent the pinnacle of prosthodontics as the closest we have come to recreating natural teeth. Implants are permanent, as strong or stronger than natural teeth, and visually indistinguishable once they are installed. While the vast majority of people are eligible for dental

implants, there are rare cases where the procedure is not viable. Here are four factors that affect your eligibility for dental implants.

1. Gum and Jawbone Health

The gums and jawbone both play a very important role in the success of dental implants. The titanium root of a dental implant fuses with the jawbone to stay in place. This process is called osseointegration, and it will fail if the jawbone isn't dense enough to secure the implant. In some cases, oral surgeons are able to overcome this limitation by grafting bone tissue from other parts of the body.

Gum tissue provides further support and protection for implant roots and a platform for the crown to rest on. Gum degradation presents another obstacle for implant installation because it is usually a symptom of periodontal disease. Patients with periodontal disease will often continue to lose gum tissue unless they make significant changes to their dental hygiene habits, and the risk of infection after implantation is greater.

2. Age and Facial Development

Because dental implants require a firm foundation, any future changes in the shape or size of the jaw could prove disastrous for implant success. For this reason, most dentists will frequently decline to perform implant installation on patients under the age of 18. However, dentists may make exceptions on a case-by-case basis after analyzing the level of development of the jaw.

Many adults will be glad to know that there is not an upper limit on the age of eligibility for dental implants. As long as the patient doesn't have significant risk factors and the jaw is healthy, implants can provide permanent tooth restoration even for adults age 80 or older.

3. Current Medications

It is wise to understand the risks and potential side-effects of all medications you are taking before you consider any surgical procedure, and dental implant surgery is no exception. In particular, you should be aware of medications that may interfere with anesthesia used during dental implant surgery.

Avoid aspirin and NSAID (Advil) pain relievers for the week before your procedure to prevent excessive bleeding. Also remember to disclose any prescription medications you are taking to your dentist so they can give you more detailed information on what is safe. If you are in need of pain relievers leading up to your surgery, acetaminophen (Tylenol) is recommended.

4. Other Risk Factors

There are a few other health conditions and habits that could act as risk factors for people considering dental implant surgery. Tobacco and alcohol use can both inhibit healing in gum and bone tissue, and tobacco smoke promotes dry mouth and increases the risk of infection. Abstaining from these and other recreational drugs will reduce the chance of implant rejection.

Patients suffering from systemic diseases such as diabetes, Parkinson's disease, and certain autoimmune diseases are at greater risk of infection or implant complications. Osteoporosis, medications used for osteoporosis and other bone deterioration diseases, contribute greatly to implant complications as well. Finally, dentists may decline patients with psychological problems or other conditions that make it difficult or impossible to care for the implant post-surgery.

Dental implant installation is one of the safest types of oral surgery, and most people will be eligible currently or with small changes to their lifestyle. If you are considering dental implants, visit your dentist to answer your questions and help you achieve the smile you've always wanted!

by Drs. Davis & Meyer

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