When it comes to restoring lost teeth, not many years ago the most popular alternative to partial dentures was the good old dental bridge. Over the last 20 to 30 years, however, a new favorite has emerged: dental implants. Dental implants are now very common.
A dental implant offers a fairly permanent solution to missing teeth. During oral surgery, it is embedded quite deep into your jawbone. And over the next few months, its titanium rod will gradually fuse with that bone. Over time it will become a sturdy, solid part of the jaw itself.
The fact is, however, that not everybody is a good candidate for dental implants. How do you know whether you are the right type of candidate? Do you need a dentist or an orthodontist to perform this procedure? And what about orthodontics for kids? Below we will try to answer these questions, and more.
Do you need a dentist or an orthodontist for dental implants?
Orthodontists do not perform dental implant procedures. These are done by dentists. Before the dentist can proceed with this procedure, however, you might need to first visit an orthodontist if you have issues such as crooked or crowded teeth. If the patient is one of your children your best option is to consult someone who specializes in orthodontics for kids.
When are you a good candidate for dental implants?
Below are a few criteria that will determine whether you are a strong candidate for dental implants or not:
Healthy gums and good oral health
Apart from missing a tooth or a few teeth, you should have a well-cared for and healthy mouth. If you have cavities or suffer from gum disease, you will have to get treatment and wait until these problems have been resolved before you can undergo an implant procedure.
To place the dental implant into position, the dentist will have to cut into the gum. This means that, if there is any amount of infection, it will reduce your chances of the procedure being successful. The recovery process will also take longer. That is why your dentist will always first examine your mouth to look for signs of gum disease before proceeding to the next step.
Bone density and dental implants
To provide adequate support for the implant you will need a solid amount of bone density. Your dentist will assess your particular bone density to ensure that the implant procedure has a good chance of being successful.
If he or she finds that there has been significant bone loss, they might recommend bone grafting to first strengthen the jaw and thus make dental implants possible. Bone grafting means the surgeon takes a piece of bone from another part of your body (he or she can also use a special bone-grafting material) and then graft it onto your jaw. This makes the jaw stronger and creates a stable base so that a dental implant procedure can be carried out.
At this stage, it is important to know that the bone grafting procedure usually takes a couple of weeks to heal, and before that, a complete dental implant can not be performed.
Do you have problems with crooked or crowded teeth?
If you have crooked teeth that’s not much of a problem. In that case, you will first have to visit an orthodontist though. He or she will draw up a longer-term plan that usually starts with using aligners or braces to correct the crooked teeth. Only after that, the dentist can proceed with getting you ready for the implants.
Crowded teeth might be a bit more of a problem. An orthodontist should, however, be able to provide you with an orthopedic solution to help create the needed space before the implants.
Are implants a good option for people with an active lifestyle?
The answer is an emphatic yes. In fact, implants are perfect for individuals with an active lifestyle. The reason is that dental implants replace both the missing tooth and the root. This means they deliver a very similar level of stability as your own teeth. This makes it possible for you to continue with your active lifestyle, having the peace of mind that you can do and eat just about everything you used to, without having to lie awake about temporary teeth or loose dentures.
Is getting dental implants a viable option for smokers?
If you are a fairly light smoker your chances of having a successful dental implant are quite good. Heavy smoking, on the other hand, is a risk factor that you should discuss with your dentist before the time. Heavy smokers experience a much higher rate of integration failure between the implants and the surrounding tissue.
There is also a significantly higher chance that you can develop destructive inflammation in the hard and soft tissue surrounding the dental implants. This can over time destroy this hard tissue.
You are not a grinder
People who unconsciously grind, grit, or clench their teeth will have problems with implants. The condition is called Bruxism and it isn’t a problem with natural teeth, since they are able to absorb the stress created by grinding. Implants, on the other hand, have a slightly different structure than natural teeth and they will yield to the pressure. This could lead to damage.
Health conditions that could reduce the viability of dental implants
If you have a weak immune system or you suffer from diabetes, dental implants might not be your best option. In both cases, the wounds will take longer to heal and you are more susceptible to infection. Discuss this with your dentist. Depending on the seriousness of your condition, dental implants might still be an option as long as it’s done under close supervision.
If your dentist decides that dental implants are not the best option for you, he or she might recommend other alternatives. These can include dentures or a dental bridge. So if you are serious about replacing that missing tooth or two, talk to your dentist about the options. They are highly trained professionals who are in the best position to recommend the perfect tooth replacement option so you can smile with confidence again.