Advancements in technology have provided various options for restoring and enhancing the appearance of teeth. Dental implants are a popular choice due to their permanence and ability to replicate and function like real teeth. There are certain characteristics that dental professionals look for in patients before moving forward with the procedure, and will determine if they are a good candidate after a careful examination and review of their medical history. Don’t be discouraged if dental implants aren’t for you– there are other innovative alternatives for replacing missing teeth.
What Are Dental Implants?
The mechanism that makes up a dental implant consists of a post, an abutment, and the artificial tooth or teeth. The post is typically made of titanium and is drilled deep into the jawbone, acting as the artificial tooth’s root. There is very low risk for allergies to a titanium implant. Over time, the jaw bone and implant fuse together, called osseointegration. After several months, once a dental professional has determined osseointegration has been completed, the abutment is attached to the implant. After the gums have healed and the dentist has assessed the jawbone’s strength, the crown is attached. The artificial teeth can be designed to be removable, fixed, or both. Once the patient is completely healed, the new implants will function like any other natural tooth. The most important aspect for implants is to have healthy tissues, good width of bone and height. We are fortunate to have a 3D Cone Beam machine in our Waterville office and can determine whether our patients are good candidates for implants.
Reasons You May Not Be a Good Candidate for Dental Implants
After a full mouth evaluation andradiographs, the dentist will observe the patient’s bone structure and anatomy to determine if they are a strong candidate for dental implant placement. The following are several characteristics where dental implants would not be the ideal tooth replacement option.
Excessive Drinking or Tobacco Use
Tobacco and alcohol products contain chemicals that weaken the immune system and slow down the body’s natural healing process. Because of this, it may hinder osseointegration, meaning the bone and implant won’t heal or fuse together. We may continue with dental implants if the patient abstains from using or shows commitment towards quitting.
Poor Oral Health and Gum Disease
Individuals who demonstrate poor dental hygiene that leads to gum disease may deter a dental professional from recommending implants. Dental implants still require the same maintenance and would ultimately be a waste of money and resources if neglected. While gum disease isn’t always something the patient can control, it eventually destroys gum and bone tissue, leaving you without enough jaw bone to support an implant.
Before proceeding with dental implant treatment, we will screen for certain conditions like diabetes, autoimmune diseases, and blood disorders to determine if anything might hinder the implant success. These could present health risks that prevent the patient from healing or increase their chance of developing a bacterial infection. Additionally, if the patient is on any medications like steroids or blood thinners, it’s simply not safe to undergo this procedure. Whether or not the patient can wait until their prescription is up or lower the dosage is a conversation to be had with their primary care doctor. Osteoporosis medication can also affect the success of implant osseointegration and should be discussed carefully between the dentist and physician.
Dental Implant Alternatives
Before getting discouraged, remember that a dental implant procedure is an invasive surgery where patients undergo a form of anesthesia- so following protocol is crucial. Not to mention, the dental implant process can take several months from start to finish and requires a lot of preparation. If teeth need to be extracted, more time is required before placing an implant. Usually, the duration from the moment you extract a tooth and get the permanent crown can take 8-12 months. However, an implant is a permanently fixed restoration that should last you for the rest of your life. There are plenty of other tooth replacement options available that provide beautiful results, such as:
With this option, prosthetic teeth are made into a dental bridge affixed to adjacent teeth using dental crowns. If the patient maintains good oral hygiene, these can last for years and resemble natural teeth, just as a dental implant would. Your dentist will still ensure the adjacent teeth are healthy enough to support the bridge.
For full dentures, a porcelain tooth prosthetic is attached to an acrylic base that resembles gums and stays in place with the help of the jaw’s structure, saliva, and a possible adhesive. Dentists will take a mold of the patient’s mouth and make sure that it fits in place comfortably. Partial dentures typically use a metal frame holding the artificial teeth that snap into place with the help of the surrounding natural teeth.
It’s important to note that for lower arch dentures, the Gold Standard is the placement of at least two implants for retention and support. The upper arch, due to the palate, has much better suction, and most of the time, the patient will be happy with the support and retention. Feel free to call us so we can further discuss the options, as everyone’s anatomy, such as the ridge height and bone support, is unique.
Schedule A Dental Implant Consultation Today!
The dentists at Smile Solutions of Maine in the Waterville and Winthrop areas are dedicated to putting the well-being of our patients first and catering to your individual needs. If dental implants aren’t in the cards, we’ll provide you with more information on alternatives that will leave you with a bright and beautiful smile.