If you have a missing tooth or teeth, dental implants should be considered as an option because the gap that is created in your mouth by a missing tooth or teeth can cause a myriad of problems from jaw misalignment to degeneration of your gum and jawbone. The good news is that age is not a limiting factor for dental implants in adults as long as you are in good health and have enough bone to hold the implant. Because bone and gum tissue are lost when the tooth root is no longer there to keep them stimulated and healthy, the longer a patient waits after losing a tooth to have implant surgery, the bigger the risk for not having sufficient bone becomes.
A good implant candidate typically has the following:
- Is in good over-all health
- Their gums are healthy with no existing periodontal disease
- Their jawbone has enough density to hold the implant
- They are committed to good oral hygiene
- They get regular dental check-ups
If you have all of these characteristics, but are unsure of your bone density because you lost your teeth several years ago and have been wearing dentures, implants may still be a viable option. Even if bone degeneration has occurred because of wearing dentures, with today's advanced dental technology, bone density and quality can be improved.
In some cases, your dentist may recommend bone grafting where a synthetic bone or bovine bone is grafted to your jawbone to give you the bone density and quality that is needed for a dental implant or implants. When ridge modification is required, your gum is lifted away from the area where your bone is insufficient for the implant and the area is built up using either bone or bone substitutes which help regenerate the bone and tissue that has been lost. Once the bone ridge has been rebuilt, the incision is closed and depending on your individual case, the implant may be placed at that time, or the bone may need to be allowed to heal and develop before the implant placement can occur.
If you have lost bone density in your upper back jaw, sinus augmentation may be required to ready your mouth for dental implants. Since that area of your mouth is in very close proximity to your sinus, if bone loss has occurred, the sinus floor can be raised and bone grafting can be done. There are several different techniques that can be used for developing bone in this area of your mouth and your dentist can discuss your best options with you.
There are, however, habits or medical conditions that impede healing in your mouth which can increase the possibility of implant failure. People who smoke, have uncontrolled diabetes, chronic diseases such as high blood pressure, or untreated gum disease or tooth decay would not be good candidates for dental implants. Your dentist will be able to assess whether or not these problems will prevent you from having dental implants.
An initial appointment with a dentist who is qualified to do dental implants will help you ascertain whether or not you are a good candidate for a dental implant or implants and what procedures, if any, may be needed to repair or build up your bone or gum tissues to ensure the success of your implants.