Achieving Candidacy for Dental Implant Surgery To Replace Your Missing Teeth
If dental implants have caught your interest as a potential solution for your missing teeth, chances are you’ve heard or read that the average adult is a candidate for dental implant surgery. But what exactly does this mean, and do you fall into the “average” category?
Dental implant surgery offers incredible benefits, but it’s also an invasive procedure with a lengthy healing period. These two factors limit candidacy more for dental implants than other procedures like root canals or dental crowns.
Here’s what you need to know as someone interested in becoming a candidate for dental implants.
There are three main prerequisites for dental implant surgery.
There are many factors that may impact your candidacy for dental implants, but most dentists will first look for these three prerequisites while performing an evaluation.
1. You’re an adult whose jawbone is fully mature.
Unlike other forms of restorative care, such as a dental bridge, dental implants are strictly for adults. It’s imperative that your jawbone and other facial bones are done growing. For this reason, the minimum age for candidacy generally starts after age 18, depending on your own body’s maturity.
Having dental implants placed before the jawbone is fully mature can lead to alignment issues with the teeth, causing an improper bite, issues with crowding or gaps, and even change in the appearance of the face and jaw.
2. You are in good health, without chronic medical conditions.
As with most elective procedures requiring surgery, a general guideline is that you have to be in relatively good health without chronic medical conditions. The surgery itself and the following period of healing is stressful on the body. For a healthy adult, the risks of dental implant failure or infection are exceptionally low. But for an adult with an uncontrolled medical condition, the risks of dental implant failure and other complications can be significantly higher.
The chronic medical conditions most likely to complicate dental implant surgery include uncontrolled diabetes, osteoporosis, cancer, and immune disorders.
3. Your jaw has enough bone to support an implant post.
In addition to a fully mature jawbone, you also need to have a certain level of bone density present to support the implant post. Bone loss in the jaw naturally occurs when teeth have been missing for a while, usually from a previous extraction. Bone loss in the jaw may also be present because of periodontitis (gum disease), which causes gum recession and permanent damage to the teeth and bone.
On the subject of gum health, it’s important to have enough healthy gum tissue as well. The surgical site must be free from gum disease and inflammation in order for the dental implant to succeed.
It’s possible to improve your chances of candidacy for dental implants.
If you’re not an immediate candidate for dental implant surgery, don’t lose hope. It’s often possible to achieve candidacy at a later time by improving your health or undergoing qualifying dental procedures.
Here are five examples based on the above three prerequisites.
1. Receive a bone graft or sinus lift to improve jawbone density.
A bone graft adds density to areas of the jaw that have experienced shrinkage, often due to past tooth loss. A sinus lift is similar to a bone graft but adds depth as well as density. If your bone loss is located in the upper jaw and there is a lack of depth due to the sinus cavity, a sinus lift may be a better choice than a simple bone graft.
2. Undergo periodontal therapy to treat your gum disease.
Gum disease must be treated before dental implant surgery. If active gum disease is the obstacle in your path toward dental implants, focus first on getting your gum disease under control and completely halted. Your dentist can start you on an effective treatment plan.
3. Receive a gum graft to repair gum recession.
Gum recession from periodontitis can be fixed by first treating the gum disease and then receiving a gum graft. The gum graft will add healthy gum tissue to the area that is to receive the dental implant to help encourage a successful surgery and an aesthetically pleasing result.
4. Wait for your health condition to stabilize.
Uncontrolled health conditions may take some time and different medications to stabilize. It’s better to wait until this occurs before attempting dental implant surgery. Even if it does take some time, remember that you can still become a candidate with a future bone graft if you do need immediate extractions.
5. Wait until your jawbone is adequately matured.
Similar to the health condition obstacle, waiting until your jawbone is mature is also a waiting game. You may not be a candidate now, but wait a few years while taking great care of your teeth and you will be.
There are dental implant alternatives if you’re not a candidate.
If you’re not a candidate for dental implants right now, there are other prosthodontic alternatives for you to consider. Dental bridges, partial dentures, and full dentures are all great choices for filling in a gap or replacing full arches of missing teeth, respectively.
Best of all, these alternatives can be removed and replaced with dental implants at a later time if you are able to achieve candidacy.
Discover if you’re a candidate for dental implant surgery by booking an evaluation.
The only way to know for certain if you’re a candidate for dental implant surgery is to see a dentist experienced in prosthodontics for an evaluation. Dr. Bentz provides an exceptional level of care for dental implant patients in and around East Norriton, PA.
You can schedule your consultation with Dr. Bentz today by calling our office or using our online form.