Dental implants are a durable, permanent, and natural-looking solution for missing teeth. However, dental implants are not for everyone, and there are a few factors you should be aware of and discuss with your dentist before you have your dental implant surgery. Here are four questions you should ask if you are considering dental implants.
Are You Healthy Enough to Undergo Surgery?
To stay in place permanently, dental implants must be surgically installed directly into the jaw bone. Because of this, dental implants are not an option for patients who are not healthy enough to undergo surgery. You should talk to your primary care physician to determine if you have existing medical conditions that could pose a risk during dental implant surgery.
While local anesthesia is commonly used during dental implant installation, dental surgeons may sometimes need to use nitrous oxide or other forms of general anesthesia. High blood pressure, medications that thin the blood, and diabetes are examples of factors that can sometimes cause complications with general anesthesia.
Do You Have Any Other Oral Health Problems?
Your overall dental health will have an impact on the success of your dental implant surgery. During your first implant consultation with your dentist, he or she will take an x-ray of your mouth to determine if your jaw bone has suffered from bone loss. If your jaw bone doesn't have enough thickness to anchor dental implants effectively, bone grafting may be required before implants can be installed.
Bone loss is not the only oral problem that can keep dental implants from setting correctly. Gum loss from gingivitis can cause too much of the implant to be exposed above the gum line, allowing bacteria to enter the socket and cause inflammation. Your dentist will be able to determine if you have enough gum tissue to cover the implant post so that only the abutment and crown are exposed.
Are You Willing to Maintain Your Implants?
Just because dental implants are artificial does not mean they do not require the same care that your natural teeth do. Practicing good dental hygiene is even more important after you have had dental implants installed, because implants may be slightly more susceptible to inflammation than natural teeth. This is because the structure of oral tissues around implants differs from those found around your natural teeth.
Natural teeth have a protective structure around their roots called the cementum. The cementum protects the roots of teeth from infection and plays a part in preventing bacteria from entering the dental sockets. Because dental implants lack this layer, bacteria and plaque can more readily access the gums around implants. Brushing and flossing each day and using a water jet flosser around dental implants can prevent plaque buildup around the base of the implants.
Are You a Smoker?
Smoking can negatively impact both the initial healing period of your dental implants as well as their long-term survival. When smoke enters the bloodstream, it causes capillaries throughout the body to contract, including those in the gums and other oral tissues. This lack of blood in the gums around your new implant can inhibit the healing and immune systems enough that your body can no longer fight infection-causing bacteria around the implant.
Continuing to smoke after your dental implant is in place puts it at a higher lifetime risk of infection. Smoking causes dry mouth by limiting the salivary glands' ability to produce saliva, meaning that there will be less saliva in your mouth to wash away harmful bacteria. Additionally, smoking accelerates bone loss and can loosen the bond between the implant and your jawbone over time.
For many people, dental implants are the perfect solution for missing teeth. Use these questions to have an informed discussion with a dentist, like those at The Center For Progressive Dentistry, and determine if dental implants are right for you.