If you have experienced premature tooth loss as an adult, you should know you are not alone. Once all of your teeth have come in (wisdom teeth included), you should have 32. If those wisdom teeth are removed, it leaves you 28 pearly whites. However, according to the National Association of Dental and Craniofacial Research, adults between the ages of 20 to 64 years only have an average of 25.5 remaining teeth. Unfortunately, when you don’t seek a tooth replacement option and leave that gap between your remaining teeth, it can lead to more complex oral health issues.
What You Should Know About Dental Implants
Dental implants are the most effective and longest-lasting tooth replacement option for adults who have experienced tooth loss. Simply stated, tooth implants are artificial roots that are surgically placed into your jaw to hold a prosthetic tooth or bridge. In most cases, a crown is placed over the implant, designed to look, feel, and function like your natural teeth.
Patients often ask us the question, should I get dentures or implants? While both are effective in helping restore your smile, we encourage dental implants for those who are a candidate. Patients that get implants often experience the following benefits:
- Behave just like your natural teeth
- They can last a lifetime with proper oral care at home and regular trips to the dentist
- Prevent bone loss in your jaw
- Can help prevent gum disease
- Prevent facial sagging and premature aging
With all these benefits, it’s only natural to wonder if you are a candidate for dental implants.
What does it take to be a candidate for dental implants?
Our patients often share stories of their happiness once they have healed from their dental implant surgery, especially if they were missing teeth or had worn dentures before. With dental implants, you can eat whatever food you want (within moderation, of course), and you can speak clearly. Dentures often slip in the mouth, causing embarrassing situations. And missing teeth can make it hard to chew and digest your food properly. With dental implants, those problems no longer exist.
So if you are ready to consider dental implants, here is what you need to know to determine if you are a candidate.
1. You Must Be in Good Oral Health
To be a candidate for dental implants, your remaining teeth and gums must be healthy. This means that your teeth should be clean and free of debris. Your gums should be pink in color (not red) and shouldn’t bleed when you brush or floss. The best way to maintain good oral health is to brush twice daily, floss at least once daily, rinse with a fluoridated mouthwash, and visit the dentist every six months for a professional dental cleaning and oral evaluation.
2. You Should Be in Good Overall Health
To maintain good oral health, you should practice good lifestyle habits and be free of certain chronic conditions. Smoking and tobacco usage can interfere with your body’s healing ability after implant surgery. We also recommend patients with diabetes, leukemia, or similar illnesses consider alternate tooth replacement options.
3. You Must Have Sufficient Jawbone Density
In some instances, especially when left untreated, tooth loss can lead to jawbone loss. This occurs as there is nothing to stimulate the jawbone without a tooth root or implant. Your jawbone needs to be dense enough to support implants. But if you suffer bone loss, that doesn’t automatically mean you’re not a candidate. Bone graft surgery is sometimes an option as the process thickens and widens the jawbone to support dental implants properly. To be effective, dental implants need osseointegration (bone ingrowth to the metal implant) to be successful. If the implant cannot bond with the bone, the crown will not have a stable foundation.
Though there isn’t a definitive age range you must fall within to get dental implants, the procedure is not typically done on patients under 18. The younger you are, the more likely your jawbone is still growing, which can lead to implant failure. Many senior citizens elect dental implant surgery on the opposite side of the spectrum. Provided that they are in good health and meet the other requirements, your advanced age will not prohibit your ability for tooth implant surgery.
5. Minimal Bruxism
Bruxism occurs when you grind, gnash, or clench your teeth. The pressure that bruxism places on the teeth can lead to implant failure. If you suffer from bruxism, it may help to determine the underlying cause. Many people grind or clench their teeth when feeling anxious or depressed. Practicing self-care and focusing on your mental health can help. However, if you habitually grind, gnash, or clench, speak to your dentist who may recommend a custom-fitted nightguard to protect your teeth.
Talk to Staley Dental About Dental Implants
Most people are candidates for dental implants, and as we said earlier, they come with so many benefits, including the return of your amazing smile. If you have more questions or want to set up a consultation to learn more, request an appointment with your dentist near Boise, Idaho. We’ll walk you through what to expect from the dental implant process and will design the best treatment plan for you. So what are you waiting for? Let’s get started on your journey to a better smile today.