Are You a Good Candidate for Dental Implants?
There’s been remarkable progress in dentistry in the last few decades, but perhaps the most revolutionary improvement is dental implants—durable replacement teeth that look, feel, and function just like the real thing.
False teeth are nothing new. The Etruscans of northern Italy made partial dentures out of human and animal teeth bonded to gold bands as early as the 7th century BC. That’s 25 centuries before the several sets of false teeth worn by George Washington.
Today’s dental implants are orders of magnitude better than their predecessors, sometimes giving patients an even better smile than the one they had in their youth. But unfortunately, they’re not for everyone. In this article, we’ll look at implants from every angle, including who would be a good candidate for the surgery, as well as who wouldn’t. We’ll also review the necessary commitments patients must make to keep their new teeth looking their best.
What are Dental Implants and What can They Do for You?
Dental implants are replacement tooth roots that get embedded right into your jawbone. Once in place, they provide a solid foundation for either fixed or removable replacement teeth, bridges, and dentures. If you still have some of your natural teeth, the replacement teeth attached to the implants will be colour matched to blend in seamlessly.
There are a lot of benefits to doing it this way. As we’ve already mentioned, there are aesthetic concerns. Implants look so much like real teeth many people can’t tell the difference. And once the implants fuse with the jawbone, they’re permanent. This holds your new teeth solidly in place, preventing the slippage commonly associated with old-school removable dentures that make many wearers mumble and slur. With implants, you can speak with clarity and confident that your teeth won’t budge at all.
Implants are also more comfortable for the patient. They become a part of you and feel just like real teeth. Gone is the discomfort often associated with removable dentures. Another bonus of being locked in place can be noticed when you eat. Traditional dentures tend to slide about when you chew. But implants work like natural teeth, letting you eat all your crunchy favourites confidently —even raw carrots or corn on the cob—and pain-free, too.
Other Benefits of Getting Dental Implants
With dental implants, you also get a boost to your self-esteem. Any lack of confidence associated with your old smile will be ancient history. And as an added bonus, you’ll also enjoy improved oral health. Unlike tooth-supported dental bridges, implants won’t require the unnecessary removal of healthy teeth. And individual implants make it easier to clean between your teeth, which means less trapped food and better oral hygiene.
Implants are incredibly durable, too. Treat them right and they’ll last you a lifetime. And they’re remarkably convenient. Gone are the days of embarrassment caused by having to remove dentures to clean them and the messy pastes and creams you had to use to hold them somewhat in place.
And implants tend to be very successful. Results vary on a case-by-case basis, of course, but dental implants are proven to be successful 98% of the time.
Common Traits of Good Dental Implant Candidates
Having gaps in your smile can lead to a whole host of problems such as tooth shifting, deterioration of the gums and jawbone, and could even change the shape of your face. And that’s not to mention the effects missing teeth can have on your confidence and how others might see you as a result. Replacing teeth with dental implants sooner than later can spare you more expensive treatments in the future, but implants—though amazing—aren’t for everyone. Let’s look at what you need to be a good candidate for this process.
First and foremost, you need to have adequate bone support. Dental implants need to fuse with your jawbone to be effective, so bone density and quality are of vital importance. This is the main reason children don’t make good candidates. Their jawbones need to be fully developed before this option is a possibility. However, inadequate bone support is not an automatic deal-breaker. In some cases, bone grafts or smaller implants can be used to help patients who otherwise wouldn’t qualify to get the implants they need.
You should also be in good overall health first. Getting implants is a surgical procedure requiring sedation and recovery. Patients with generally poor oral health—especially people who smoke, consume alcohol, or have diabetes—have lower than average success rates.
Healthy gums come in handy too, adding much-needed support to new implants while they fuse with the bone. Dental implant failure is common among patients who are at high risk for gum disease.
Ideal candidates for this surgery have a real commitment to oral health. The success of your procedure hinges on maintaining great dental hygiene. Daily brushing and flossing are critical, of course, but so are regular follow up visits with your dentist. Holding your implants to such a rigorous standard will help strengthen your natural teeth as well.
It’s also a good thing if you don’t clench your teeth. The added pressure caused by teeth clenching—also known technically as bruxism—can drastically diminish your chances of success with implants.
The exact location of your missing tooth may also play a factor.
All that said, the only true way to know if you’re a good candidate for implants is to perform a dental exam and do some imaging so we can properly evaluate the situation. The requirements we speak about in this article are typical issues that might impact your suitability for implants, but the clinical exam is the only way to know for sure.
If you have any questions about implants and your likelihood as a candidate, we would encourage you to call or complete our appointment booking form to setup your no-obligation consultation with a qualified dental implant dentist.
Reasons You May Not Be a Good Candidate for Dental Implants
As we’ve said, not everyone is a good candidate for implants. Young people whose jaws are still growing will have to wait for the procedure, as will pregnant women. Heavy smokers should consider quitting before getting implants as smoking inhibits oral healing and can threaten the success of the operation. The same goes for alcohol and substance abusers who also may not pay close enough attention to their after-care regimen.
Implants are also discouraged for anyone who’s ever had head or neck high-dose radiation treatment. You may also not qualify for treatment if you have a chronic disease or systemic problem. Conditions that could lead to disqualification include uncontrolled diabetes, connective-tissue diseases, hemophilia, and immune deficiencies.
Dental Implants & Ongoing Aftercare Commitments
Once you’ve got your million-dollar smile back, care and maintenance are crucial. Just like regular teeth, implants need daily brushing and flossing. You’ll also need regular checkups to ensure your bite is consistent and nothing has come loose. This may require several visits to make sure everything works properly.
And you must take care of your implants. They tend to be more expensive than other kinds of false teeth and they aren’t covered by all health insurance plans. In most cases, it’s only a one-time expense, unlike other methods that can have ongoing maintenance expenses.
Complications are rare but can include bleeding, infection, and numbness. There’s also a chance of injury to nearby muscles or the sinuses. In rare worst-case scenarios, the implants fail to bond with the jawbone.
Dental Implants—the Ultimate Evolution in Replacement Teeth
False teeth have come a long way since the Etruscan era. Today, if you qualify, you can get replacement teeth that look, feel, and work just like your natural teeth, and if you’re willing to put in the work, they’ll last you a lifetime.