If you have lost some, or all, of your teeth due to gum disease, you may be wondering if dental implants are a good option for you. As a rule, dental implants are appropriate for people who are in good health and have a healthy mouth. However, that does not necessarily mean that if you have gum disease you can't get dental implants. The success rate of dental implants depends on many factors, including the cause of your gum disease and your willingness to make the necessary changes.
Causes of Gum Disease that Increase the Risk of Dental Implant Failure
Some underlying conditions, or lifestyle choices, that contributed to your gum disease may prohibit your dentist or periodontist from recommending dental implants. Here are some of the most common:
- Smoking: Smoking in a major contributor to gum disease, and can contribute to a higher failure rate of dental implants. If you are a smoker and will continue to smoke, dental implants are more likely to fail. According to the US National Library of Medicine, the exact mechanism that causes increased dental implant failure is not known, but several factors may contribute to it. It is thought that vasoconstriction and other factors that contribute to slow wound healing are the primary culprits. Heavy smokers (defined as more than 14 cigarettes a day by one study quoted in the research and 30 to 40 cigarettes a day by another) experience more dental implant failure than light smokers.
- Drinking Alcohol: Excessive alcohol consumption may play a large role in your gum disease. Alcohol irritates the tissues of the mouth and may slow the healing process. In addition, long-term drinking may speed bone loss. Your dental implants depend on strong jaw bones to support them. As a rule, all alcohol should be avoided for at least one week after surgery. If you drink regularly and are not able or willing to stop, your dental implants may fail.
- Disease: Systemic diseases that affect the entire body may have contributed to your poor oral health and may make dental implants risky for you. Two common diseases that may prevent you from being a good candidate for dental implants are diabetes and osteoporosis. Diabetes can cause slow wound healing and an increased risk of infection. However, if your glucose levels are under control, you may be good candidate for dental implants. Likewise, osteoporosis may prohibit you from getting dental implants due to bone loss.
Can You Do Anything to Correct Gum Disease and Bone Loss?
While there are no guarantees, there are some methods for correcting gum disease and bone loss that may work for you. In this case, you may then become a good candidate for dental implants.
- Removing Your Teeth to Facilitate Healing: Extracting your teeth and allowing your mouth to heal may be an effective way to put an end to gum disease. According to Brian Dorfman, MD, DMD an Oral & Maxillofacial Surgeon, once the teeth are removed, periodontitis (a bacterial infection that causes gum disease) cannot continue, as the bacteria only thrive on your teeth. Assuming you have the necessary bone structure to support the dental implants, ridding your mouth of gum disease first may be a solution for you.
- Bone Grafting: In some cases, bone can be grafted to the jaw bone when the teeth are extracted to provide solid support for dental implants.
If you currently suffer from gum disease, there is a good chance that you can still get dental implants. You may need to change your lifestyle or take corrective measures to control the gum disease and bone loss. Talk to a dentist at a clinic like Oral Surgery Center about the options available to you.