Dental implant surgery has been hailed as one of the major breakthroughs in dentistry of the last 50 years. For good reason.
Implants have proven to successfully replace single missing teeth and missing bridges. They stabilize dentures and will replace an entire arch of teeth. The success of implants offers patients with treatment options not widely available until recently.
Are you a candidate for dental implants? Here are five criteria we consider when assessing a patient’s candidacy:
1. Desire for treatment
2. Medical history
3. Condition of mouth and commitment to dental hygiene
4. Results of an X-ray exam
When patients present for treatment, one of the critical questions to resolve during the patient interview is to make sure we understand their desire for treatment.
Once the goal of treatment is understood, a treatment plan with necessary procedures and sequence of treatment can be established. Sometimes the process is simple, such as replacing one lost tooth. In other situations, planning for treatment involves several different consultation appointments with facial photographs, creating dental study models and treatment planning “wax ups” of proposed tooth positions.
As part of the initial interview, a review of a patient’s medical history is carried out.
Although implants have a very high success rate, there are times when the treatment is not the right fit for a patient. Patients who have uncontrolled diabetes, are undergoing chemotherapy, are heavy smokers (a pack per day or higher) or have compromised healing potential for any reason, are not good candidates for dental implants.
The condition of the mouth and commitment to dental hygiene is also very important.
Patients must have good oral hygiene and be free of periodontal disease. The condition of the other teeth is important in planning care. If there are many teeth which are heavily repaired or compromised, it is generally not appropriate to place single implants as the other teeth may fail in a relatively short period time. Treatment of other dental disease needs to be carried out prior to implant therapy. Assessment of oral hygiene is very important and sometimes patient education and training is required to improve oral hygiene prior to implant placement.
X-rays (radiographs) are carried out to determine the relationship of the implant sites to the adjacent teeth and volume of bone present at the site. Thanks to the advancement of implant techniques, extractions are performed and often implants can be placed immediately. However, with some patients, bone repair (bone grafting) must be carried out prior to implant placement.
Lastly, dental implant treatment can be expensive and the creation of a budget is important.
Many dental insurance companies do not cover implant treatment as a benefit. However, our office can work with you to provide options that will allow you to receive care within your budget.
Dental implant treatment is an excellent way to replace missing teeth and has been very successful. Like all medical and dental treatments, a proper evaluation is needed to determine who is an appropriate candidate for care. If you are interested in dental implants, we welcome you to schedule a consultation with our office.
Dr. David W. Todd, DMD, MD, has been active in his profession. He has authored 18 articles in various publications and made numerous presentations at state, regional, and national meetings. For Dr. Todd’s full bio click here.