5 Important Things Your Dentist Checks Before Recommending Dental Implants
What Happens During a Dental Implant Consultation
Dental implants are a fantastic solution for replacing one or more missing teeth. They preserve bone health, improve oral health, and last a lifetime. But before you dive into scheduling your dental implant surgery date, you first need to see your dentist for an in-depth consultation.
Your dental implant consultation serves two important purposes. First, it gives you a chance to learn more about dental implants, what the procedure entails, and ask any questions you might have on your mind. Secondly, it allows your dentist to thoroughly evaluate whether or not you’re an ideal candidate for surgery for dental implants.
There are a lot of little details your dentist will be looking for during your evaluation, but these 5 factors are the most important when determining candidacy.
1. Overall Oral Health
A consultation for dental implants will often begin with a series of X-rays followed by a comprehensive oral examination. The X-rays will help your dentist get a close look at what’s happening under the surface of your smile. They’ll pay particularly close attention to your teeth and gum health.
If your interest in dental implants is because a problematic tooth needs to be extracted, your dentist will examine this tooth closely. Even if you’ve previously lost a tooth, the health of your neighboring teeth is still very important. For example, if a tooth neighboring the future implant site has a cavity, it’s often recommended to have this treated before moving forward with implant surgery.
Your gum health is just as important as your teeth’s health. Surgery for dental implants requires your dentist to access your jawbone through your gums. If your gums show signs of gingivitis (inflammation) or periodontitis (advanced gum disease), it’s critical that these problems are treated and any infection is healed before surgery.
2. Jawbone Density
Using the same X-rays taken at the beginning of your consultation, your dentist will evaluate the jawbone density of the future implant site. Poor jawbone density is the most common obstacle in achieving candidacy for dental implant surgery.
Jawbones require healthy teeth in order to maintain an adequate level of density. When teeth are missing, the bone in the immediate area begins to reabsorb and shrink away. Without adequate jawbone density, dental implants will have a very high risk of failure.
If you will have an extraction prior to dental implant surgery or you only very recently lost a tooth, you may already have adequate density. If not, your dentist can perform a preliminary bone graft to build up your jawbone, as long as you’re still a candidate overall.
3. General Physical Health
Surgery to place dental implants is a very invasive dentistry service involving a lengthy period of healing. Going through any form of surgery is stressful for the entire body, and this applies to surgery for dental implants as well. For this reason, your dentist will take your general physical health very seriously.
During your consultation, your dentist will go over your medical history and ask about any recent changes to your health. You should feel open to share how you’ve been feeling lately, if you’ve been sick recently, and if you’ve noticed anything new with your general health.
To be a candidate for dental implant surgery, you don’t need to have perfect health, but you should be relatively fit without any major, uncontrolled medical conditions.
4. Medical Conditions
If you do have pre-existing medical conditions, your dentist should know about how they’ve progressed or if anything has changed in terms of care. Some medical conditions put patients at a higher risk of implant failure, especially in cases of uncontrolled symptoms.
Some common medical conditions that impact candidacy include uncontrolled diabetes, cancer, autoimmune disease, heart disease, bleeding disorders, and high blood pressure. Remember, if you have one of these conditions but it is under control, you may still be a candidate.
Your dentist may even consult with your general physician to ensure that dental implant surgery is safe for you to undergo.
If you have a medical condition requiring the daily use of prescription medications, your dentist will need to know which medications you’re taking. Some medications can complicate healing and put patients at too high of a risk for implant failure. A few examples include steroids, radiation therapy, immunosuppressants, and vasodilators.
5. Lifestyle Habits
Your dentist will also ask you questions about your lifestyle habits. This is because there are a few habits that can increase the risks of complications during surgery and throughout the healing process.
Your dentist will have an idea of how you care for your teeth at home during a visual examination. If you follow a great at-home dental care regimen and use quality oral care products, you’ll lower your risks of dental implant failure and ensure a smoother healing period.
Smoking & Alcohol
Smoking, tobacco use, and frequent alcohol use all raise risks of dental implant complications to quite a high level. These habits harm oral health, which can be particularly bad if you’re in a state of healing after dental implant surgery. Staying away from tobacco, vaping, smoking, and alcohol will lower your risks.
Bruxism & TMDs
Bruxism and TMDs, like TMJ disorder, put a lot of stress on your teeth and can badly harm your dental implant. If you experience teeth grinding or TMJ pain, you and your dentist can discuss potential treatment options to hopefully enable you to become a safe candidate for dental implant surgery.
Book your dental implant consultation at Dixon, Boles & Associates.
Ready to take the first step toward beautiful new dental implants? If you haven’t yet scheduled your dental implant consultation, you can do so today by calling our Wilson, NC, office or using this online form.