A dental implant is a titanium cylinder placed in the jawbone that takes the place of a natural tooth root. Once the implant is anchored in the bone, it is topped with a prosthetic tooth and functions the same as a natural tooth. Almost all patients who are in good general health are candidates for the procedure, except for pregnant women and teens whose jaws are still growing.
Good oral health is a key criterion for implant placement, so patients who have periodontal disease or tooth decay must undergo treatment for these issues before receiving dental implants. A sufficient amount of healthy bone tissue at the site of tooth loss is also critical for supporting a dental implant, but a bone grafting procedure prior to implant surgery can turn a poor candidate into a good one. Once the implants are in place, the patient must adhere to a healthy lifestyle and good oral hygiene practices to ensure a successful outcome. Therefore, patients who smoke are not good candidates, because smoking inhibits the healing process. Those who drink excessively or abuse drugs are also not prime candidates for implant placement because they are likely to neglect oral hygiene and skip follow-up appointments.
Patients with chronic health problems often assume that they cannot receive dental implants, but in many cases, they qualify if their conditions are under control. Those with diabetes, autoimmune diseases, heart problems, or bleeding disorders should consult with an implant dentist to find out if they can safely undergo the procedure after certain precautions are taken.