Dental hygiene is one of the most commonly overlooked aspects of our overall health. Nearly 180 million Americans are missing one tooth, and an estimated 40 million are missing all of their teeth, according to the American College of Prosthodontists. There are many things to be done for damaged or missing teeth, including dental implants. Below you will learn more about what could prevent you from getting a dental implant.
What is a dental implant?
A dental implant acts as an orthodontic anchor and is made of titanium that connects to the jaw or skull to support a dental prosthetic, such as a denture, bridge, or crown.
The process in which the titanium implant forms a bond to the bone is called osseointegration. The dental implant is placed first, allowing a moderate amount of time for healing and osseointegration to occur before a prosthetic is added.
What disqualifies me as a candidate for a dental implant?
Dental implants require a certain level of health to be maintained by the recipient. Patients are often told they are not a candidate for dental implants for several reasons such as:
Smoking increases a patient’s risk of dental implant failure. If a patient is a smoker, their dental professional will often give them a time frame that they will need to stop smoking to be considered for a dental implant.
Gum disease often goes untreated for long periods, destroying our healthy gingiva, the tooth itself, and even the bone. Gum disease must be successfully treated before a dentist considering approving a dental implant
Poor overall health
Receiving one or more dental implants is considered a surgical procedure requiring incisions and sutures. If you as a patient are not healthy enough to undergo an operation, you may be denied the procedure.
Diabetes not only affects the blood sugar of a patient, but it is a systemic disease affecting essentially all parts of the human body. A patient with diabetes must receive treatment to get their diabetes under control before they are deemed safe to receive a dental implant.
A patient currently receiving, or who has recently received, radiation therapy near the face or neck may be denied dental implant surgery due to an increased risk to the patient.
Medications, such as blood thinners or steroids, increase the patient’s risk during a dental implant procedure deeming it unsafe for the patient. A dentist may recommend the patient stop taking their current medications, if approved by their primary care physician, for a certain length of time before being approved for a dental implant.
Surgery is not recommended in pregnant females unless medically necessary. It is recommended to wait until after pregnancy to receive a dental implant.
Low bone density
Many dentists will not perform dental implants if they do not believe there is enough bone for the implant to attach to. Low bone density is the number one reason that patients are denied dental implant surgery. The dental implant must osseointegrate to the bone before a prosthetic being placed, however, when there is not enough bone density available within your jaw the implant cannot attach securely.
Rather than approve you for a surgery that is not medically safe for you, or that is beyond the skill level of the dentist of choice, they will often deem you a bad candidate. You may seek out a second opinion from a more highly trained professional.
A highly skilled, and properly trained dentist may recommend a bone graft to be considered a candidate for a dental implant. A bone graft replaces missing bone in your jaw with bone tissue from either the chin, hip, or shin, to allow new bone to grow.
A bone graft, depending on the severity, requires several weeks of healing prior to the start of a dental implant procedure. As a bone graft patient, you may require several appointments to ensure proper bone density once a graft is completed before being approved to receive a dental implant. Again, the implant may take several weeks to heal before receiving the prosthetic whether that be a crown, bridge, implant, or anchor for your orthodontic treatment.
Young patients, whose bones have not fully developed, are considered at risk for a dental implant. A dentist will not perform a dental implant procedure on a patient whose jaw is still growing. You must be an adult with a fully developed bone structure.
Considerations for a Dental Implant
To be considered for a dental implant procedure, there are many things your dentist will take into consideration. First and foremost, you must be missing one or more teeth. Your dentist will require that you not smoke or drink for a set number of days or weeks prior to the procedure to ensure there is no risk associated.
Your dentist will evaluate your bone density to ensure your jaw bone is a strong candidate to take on and be able to hold the implant securely in place. Overall, a good candidate for a dental implant is overall healthy, an adult, and has good bone density.