If you have teeth that are badly damaged or missing, you may be a candidate for dental implants.
Many people have heard of dental implants but don’t know exactly what they are. Dental implants are medical devices that are surgically implanted into someone’s jaw to provide support for artificial teeth. Patients will often get them to restore their ability to chew their food or to make sure they look their best.
For a long time, dentists relied on titanium implants, which are made of metal. Now that many patient don’t want metal implants in their mouths for health and esthetic reasons, ceramic zirconia implants have caught on. These are tooth-colored and look very natural.
Let’s look at the two major reasons you might be a candidate for a dental implant.
- You’ve got painful cracked or loose teeth.
These teeth can be subject to nerve death or degeneration and fractures, and there may be bone loss associated with them. As a result, your dentist will want to make sure to address them.
2. You’re missing teeth.
Although it may seem like missing teeth don’t cause any harm, it is very important to replace them. For one thing, if you’re missing teeth, you can experience “bite collapse,” which can seriously impact the facial profile. Second, you need a healthy set of teeth for proper chewing and speech. It’s hard to make certain sounds without the assistance of your teeth. And finally, there are craniosacral considerations. Missing teeth can have an impact on your jaw, neck and spine. This can lead to headaches, neck and back pain, and sleep and breathing disorders.
In either case, your dentist must do a thorough diagnosis to determine the best course of treatment. With a cracked tooth, your dentist will evaluate whether the tooth is dead or alive, determine if the nerve is dead or dying and find out if the tooth is in a compromised state because of pain or sensitivity.
The structural condition of the tooth, gums and bones is also important to consider. The dentist must look at whether the tooth is intact, compromised or fractured, factors that influence whether or not it can be saved. As to the gums, your dentist will look for inflammation or infection, which could influence the success of an implant. Another key factor is the condition of the bone. Is it adequate and healthy?
Your dentist may also look at whether you clench or grind your teeth. These habits, if unaddressed, can cause damage to implants, leading to implant failure.
If you have a missing tooth, there are other things your dentist will look at. An ideal candidate for implants will have had a tooth extracted with no complications–and a bone graft performed to preserve the bone–within the past year.
What if more than a year has elapsed, and you never got a bone graft? Or you got a bone graft but waited too long to get an implant? You may still be able to get an implant if you led a healthy lifestyle with a clean diet—which will have promoted healthy bone growth.
That said, not all patients are candidates for implants. If you had a difficult extraction with an infection, and no bone graft was performed, there may not be enough bone present to do an implant. Some patients, in this scenario, will opt for a procedure called bone augmentation to restore lost bone, so they can get an implant. But that is not an option for every patient. Your dentist will have to study the particulars of your case to make a recommendation.
Here at the Institute for Systemic Dentistry, we see good dental health as a collaborative process, and we customize our treatment options to each patient. If you are wondering if implants are right for you, we encourage you to book an appointment to discuss your questions with one of our dentists.