Are Dental Implants an Option?
I’ve Lost Teeth Due to Gum Disease. Can I Still Get Dental Implants?
This is a great question to ask when you consider the treatment options to replace missing teeth. At Empire Dental Specialty Group, we love replacing missing teeth and restoring the ability to chew. One of the best and most predictable ways we can do that is with dental implants.
Why Did Gum Disease Cause Me to Lose Teeth?
Chronic gum disease destroys the tissues surrounding and supporting the teeth, including the jawbone, connecting ligaments, and covering gum tissues. The bacteria in dental plaque and tartar on the teeth emit toxins into these tissues, causing an immune response of inflammation. When no dental treatment intervenes to stop this process, that inflammation becomes destructive.
As the tissues surrounding the teeth recede during the disease, the teeth lose their support. Eventually, with no treatment, they can loosen and even fall out. We can stop this gum disease process with periodontal care, but only when we intervene early enough to stop the destruction and preserve the foundation around the teeth.
Does Past Gum Disease Mean My Dental Implants Will Fail?
Past gum disease does place you at higher risk for dental implant failure. This does not mean implants will fail. It simply means you will have to work closely with your dental specialist to fight this risk factor.
Past gum disease puts increases the risk of dental implant failure in two ways.
- Prior bone loss may limit the length of the dental implants your specialist can place. Longer implants have a higher success rate, but they require a significant amount of healthy jawbone. People who suffered from gum disease in the past may have a shortened amount of jawbone present.
- Disease-causing bacteria can destroy the supporting structures of the dental implant, just as they did to the teeth. This is especially true when you maintain some natural teeth and add dental implants. The bacteria in the plaque and tartar buildup on the natural teeth can spread to the dental implants, causing gum disease to affect them as well (called peri-implantitis).
What Do Dental Implants Require for Success?
In order to keep a dental implant healthy and functioning well for many years, you must maintain the health of the surrounding tissues. The good news is that the steps involved in keeping implants healthy is the same as those for keeping natural teeth healthy. While some additional cleaning accessories may be necessary, the overall principles are the same.
Great Home Care
By home care, we mean removing dental plaque from your dental implants every single day. This automatically includes brushing and flossing with the appropriate techniques for plaque removal. It also may include using tools like a Waterpik water flosser or GUM Soft Picks to clean the spaces under an implant crown (because they are typically larger than the spaces between your natural teeth).
Consistent Dental Follow-Ups
Your dentist needs to evaluate the health of the tissues around your dental implant with x-rays at least once every year. Because the implant is a prosthesis, you cannot feel when there is a problem. The x-rays will show the dentist if there are any changes around the implant and alert him or her to a problem in its earliest stages.
Consistent Professional Teeth Cleanings
You also need to see your dental hygienist for consistent cleanings. Even with the best home care, it is possible for areas of bacterial buildup to collect on the dental implant in areas you are unable to clean yourself. The dental hygienist will be able to remove these collections, preventing a resurgence of gum disease and ensuring the health of the surrounding tissues.
More Questions about Gum Disease and Dental Implants?
Contact the periodontics and oral surgery experts at Empire Dental Specialty Group. We specialize in treating gum disease and replacing missing teeth, and we have dental specialties all under one roof to prevent tooth loss from gum disease and provide dental implants in cases where tooth loss has occurred. Our specialists can answer every question you have about gum disease, dental implants, and how the two relate to each other.