If you have missing teeth, dental implants are the best option for tooth replacement. They provide a natural-looking and -feeling option that is virtually indistinguishable from your original teeth. In addition, they keep your jawbone healthy as you age. If you have gum disease, you might require preliminary treatment before you can have implants placed.
How Dental Implants Work
Unlike traditional dentures, which sit on top of your gums, dental implants provide an artificial tooth root. This root is placed directly in the jawbone, so it stimulates growth in the bone. Without this stimulation, the bone would gradually atrophy, creating the “shrunken” look that is common in long-term denture wearers. In addition, the root holds your artificial tooth in place so you never have to worry about it shifting, moving, or falling out.
Your implant dentist will determine if implants the best type of tooth replacement for you. If you aren’t a good candidate for traditional implants, your dentist might recommend an implant-anchored denture, which provides the advantages of dental implants with a removal denture by using a smaller number of implants.
Am I a Good Candidate for Implants?
If you are in overall good health, you might be a good candidate for dental implants. However, if you are suffering from periodontal disease, you’ll need to discuss this with your dentist before deciding on an implant procedure. You’ll discuss any health issues you might have that could adversely affect your ability to heal after the procedure. These include:
- Gum disease
- Autoimmune disorders
- Lack of bone mass in your jaw
- Osteoporosis, particularly if you take certain medications
- If you are a smoker
In the case of periodontal disease, your dentist might prescribe antibiotics, deep cleaning techniques, or other treatments depending upon the severity of the infection in your gums. After treatment, you might be a candidate for implant surgery. Similarly, if you lack bone mass in your jaw, you might be able to have bone grafts that will allow you to continue with an implant procedure.