If you’re missing even a single tooth, it can have a negative impact on the quality of your life overall. That may sound overly dramatic, but it’s really true. Once you lose just one tooth, your other teeth will begin to shift inside your mouth in an effort to fill in the gap left behind by the missing tooth. That, in turn, will throw your bite off, and that can lead to problems with your jaw. Problems with your jaw can lead to headaches, face pain, lack of sleep, bone loss and other issues. That’s why it’s so important to replace missing teeth. One excellent way to do that is with dental implants – a technology that involves your dentist or oral surgeon implanting a metal rod into your jawbone, letting it fuse to the bone tissue, then affixing an artificial tooth to the top of the implant. This permanent solution for missing teeth is a great choice for many people. But if you’re like some Cedar Park, Texas area dental patients, you may be wondering, “Am I a candidate for dental implants?” You’ll find the answer to that question in the information we’ve compiled below.
Dental Implants Are the Right Choice for Most People
It’s fair to say that most people are probably good candidates for dental implants. Although it takes some time to complete – usually between 3 and 7 months in total – the implant procedure itself is relatively straightforward. But some patients may not be ready for that procedure. If you fall into any of the following categories, you might not be ready to have a dental implant – at least, not yet.
- You take certain types of medication. People who take beta-blockers for blood pressure or a heart condition are more likely to experience dental implant failure. And if you are currently taking chemotherapy drugs, corticosteroids or bisphosphonates, you should not have a dental implant.
- You have gum disease. If you have any stage of gum disease, you’ll need to resolve that issue before getting an implant. In fact, any patient planning to get a new dental implant needs to be in good oral health before the procedure is performed. When it comes to gum disease, your dentist can take steps to resolve that issue before commencing with an implant. Depending on which stage of gum disease you’re experiencing, treatment could consist of anything from a deep cleaning followed up by an improved at-home dental hygiene routine to oral surgery. You’ll need to go through whatever treatment your dentist recommends, then maintain good oral health for a certain period of time before qualifying for the dental implant procedure.
- You have a serious, chronic disease. Dental patients who are suffering from other significant health problems – such as diabetes, cancer, osteonecrosis, hemophilia or autoimmune diseases – are not good candidates for the dental implant procedures because these health issues negatively affect your body’s ability to heal after the implant is inserted into the jawbone.
- You engage in unhealthy lifestyle habits on a regular basis. One of the essential steps in the dental implant process is healing after the procedure is done. If you practice unhealthy habits – including poor oral hygiene, smoking or drinking alcohol to excess – those habits can impede your body’s ability to heal. Your dentist or oral surgeon should be aware of your personal habits prior to the implant procedure. If you are approved for an implant, you’ll have to commit to practicing good habits throughout the healing process.
- You have low bone density. Because a dental implant involves insertion of a metal post into the jawbone, the patient needs to have an adequate amount of jawbone present to accommodate the implant. If your jawbone isn’t strong enough to hold the implant, you may need a bone graft prior to the procedure.
Preparing for a Dental Implant with Bone Grafting
One of the other undesirable results of living with missing teeth has to do with its effect on the density of the jawbone. The longer you live with one or more missing teeth, the more likely you are to experience compromised bone density in the jaw. Fortunately, there is a procedure that addresses this issue, and it’s much more common than you may think: bone grafting.
Bone grafting may sound like a major surgical procedure, but the process involved is, in fact, minor surgery that is typically done in a dentist office.
It begins with the dentist or oral surgeon making an incision in the gum tissue to access the bone tissue underneath, then grafting the new material onto the bone, closing the incision and allowing new bone growth to occur around the grafted material – a process that typically takes between 4 and 6 months. Grafting material may be taken from some other area of the patient’s body, it may be from an animal or human donor, or it may be synthetic. Whatever the grafting material is, the body will create new bone tissue to surround it once it is grafted onto the jawbone. After that healing is complete, the patient will be ready to undergo the dental implant process.
Ask Your Dentist If You Are a Good Candidate for a Dental Implant
It’s no wonder that dental implants have become such a popular way to replace one or more missing teeth. These permanent restorations not only look just like natural teeth; they feel that way to the patient as well. After getting a new implant, you can simply brush and floss as you normally would each day, and you’ll be able to enjoy any foods you’d like. Best of all, if implants are properly cared for, they can last for a lifetime!
Of course, the only way to know for sure if you are a good candidate for a new dental implant is to ask your dentist. While it’s true that some medications and health issues might disqualify you from getting an implant, often there are ways to address problems – such as altering your lifestyle habits and bone grafting, for example. Call your Cedar Park, Texas, dentist today to find out more!