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Dental Implants: Do You Have What It Takes?

June 17, 2015

It wasn’t until relatively very recently that your options for addressing the aesthetic, physical, and psychological damage caused by missing teeth were fairly limited. You could either get conventional dentures, or a bridge, depending on the nature of your specific problem. Losing your teeth, even just one, is enough to change your life forever, and usually for the worse. Conventional treatments (dentures and bridges), while still effective, don’t really offer much. Your bite strength, which is critical to your ability to chew and speak properly, won’t improve much; for example, conventional dentures only give you back 10% to 20% of your bite strength back after you’ve lost teeth.

Fortunately, today you have a third option: dental implants. Dental implants are about as close as you’re going to get to replacing missing teeth with actual teeth. With dental implants, there will be no compromise to your ability to speak or chew properly, they’re discrete, perfectly replicating the appearance of your natural teeth, and they will last a lifetime (your implant fuses with your jawbone, and it literally becomes a part of you).

In our Marrero, LA dental practice, we get a lot of inquiries from patients looking for a permanent, no-hassle, no compromise solution for missing teeth. Dental implants certainly fit the bill, but not everyone can receive dental implants. You must be at a certain level of oral and general health, because getting dental implants is a surgical procedure, and because the dental implant is less likely to fail in a healthy body and mouth (the chances of this are very small for those with suitable health profiles).

Do You Have What It Takes?

It should first be noted that these “requirements” are flexible, and in many cases, your dentist will be able to repair problems that would otherwise prevent you from getting dental implants. A consultation with your dentist is the only way to know for sure if you can get dental implants.

The Condition of Your General Health

Your general health comes into play, because dental implants are placed surgically. Bridges and dentures are, in a sense, appliances you wear; dental implants owe their effectiveness to the fact that they are embedded into the jawbone, under the gums, where eventually the implant fuses with the bone as it undergoes osseointegration (part of the normal healing process, your jawbone grows around the implant, holding it permanently, firmly in place).

From a health perspective, this means you must be well enough and able to tolerate general anesthesia. Getting dental implants is a lengthy surgical procedure, and you need to be “under” for it. Some people simply don’t tolerate general anesthesia, and complications can even be life-threatening in some cases. If you know that you don’t tolerate general anesthesia, make sure your dentist knows so that it can be factored in to the decision-making process.

You must also be free of serious disease. Because everyone’s health is unique, what defines a “serious disease” for one person might be different for another. However, certain diseases seem to universally present problems for people who want dental implants. These include:

  • Autoimmune Disorders
  • Arthritis
  • Type II Diabetes
  • High Blood Pressure

As stated above, just having one of these diseases does not necessarily “disqualify” you from getting dental implants, but they should still be a major part of the discussion. For example, the most frequent cause of tooth loss in the US is advanced gum disease; it destroys your oral tissues and degrades the bone in your jaw, leading to loose teeth which may fall out, or require extraction. There is a strong link between diabetes and gum disease: if you have one, the chances are high you have the other.

The Condition of Your Oral Health

For many people who are interested in dental implants, having the right level of oral health is often a challenge; like we said, gum disease is the number one cause of tooth loss, and its effects can have a negative impact on your ability to successfully undergo implantation, and your ability to support the implant in your body without a relatively high risk of failure. However, there are certain things your dentist can do to help. For example, if your jawbone has been weakened by gum disease, you may be able to get a bone graft (the placement of bone in your jaw from elsewhere in your body).

Anything Else?

In addition to being in good oral and general health, you must be a fully grown adult to receive dental implants. There are no exceptions to this rule; a dental implant placed in a mouth that is still growing, developing, and taking shape is the equivalent of putting a wine glass in a cement mixer: implant failure is a certainty.

If you are a smoker, you should quit if you want dental implants. Smoking isn’t a great idea in general, but in the context of dental implants, smoking retards the healing process which is important to the long-term success of the dental implant. Smoking can also cause postoperative complications, and smoking also contributes to a condition called bruxism (known more commonly as “teeth grinding”). Bruxism puts a lot of stress on your teeth as well as implants, to the point where it can threaten the viability of the implants.

This isn’t limited to the period before or during your implantation; smoking while you have dental implants increases the chance of implant failure considerably.

Interested In Dental Implants?

The only way to know if dental implants are right for you is to call us and make an appointment for an exam and consultation. Your dentist will want to discuss your entire health history in addition to checking the condition of your teeth, jaws, and gums to make a final recommendation.

If you have missing teeth, the problems will only get worse: don’t delay, call today!

Dial 504-264-6461 to reach our front desk, or click here to access our online appointment form and book your visit right now!

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