What Are Dental Implants?Dental implants look like your real teeth and are the perfect long-term solution to getting your smile back. They are a durable option to replace lost teeth because they are made of titanium and compatible materials. The surgery itself first replaces the tooth roots with metal, screw-like posts and then replaces the damaged or missing teeth with new, artificial teeth made to look and function like your old teeth. Dental implants take the place of dentures or bridgework and are often more secure. That’s because the implant fuses with your bone over time and won’t slip, make noise, or damage the bone the way temporary measures can. You also don’t have to worry about them decaying like your existing teeth used in some temporary work.
Who Can Get Dental Implants?Not everyone is a good candidate for dental implants, and both your age and overall health are determining factors.
AgeA cosmetic dentist usually won’t recommend implant surgery for anyone under 18. That’s because your jaw isn’t fully developed until you’re a young adult and the success rate of an implant procedure goes down the younger you are. Complications can arise, such as bite problems, space between teeth, bone loss, and craniofacial changes. Bone development can sometimes take longer, especially for boys, so most dentists will want to perform X-rays and other assessments on anyone close to 18 to verify that bone development is 100% finished. After you reach full bone development, there are no age limits for getting dental implants. If you are healthy and your jaw is in good enough condition to support implants, you’re good to go.
HealthSome people will not be a good candidate even if they are the right age. The following health issues can prevent you from getting implants:
- A chronic illness such as diabetes or leukemia
- A condition that could interfere with healing
- Tobacco use
- Pregnant or nursing
- A need for bone grafts
- Certain cancers
How You’ll Know It’s Time to Talk to Your Dentist About ImplantsIf you’ve been thinking about getting dental implants and wonder if and when you should talk to your dentist, you’re not alone. Many people feel self-conscious and need a bit of encouragement to seek out help. But if you have missing teeth, wear dentures that are uncomfortable, or are ready to get your full smile back, it’s probably time to reach out to your dentist to see if implants are an option for you. Potentially eligible reasons include:
- You are missing one or more teeth.
- Your jawbones are fully grown.
- You have healthy oral tissue.
- You don’t have any health issues that would affect healing.
- You are unable or unwilling to wear dentures.
- You want to improve your speech.
- You aren’t a smoker
- You have enough bone to secure the implants (or can have a bone graft)
- You have several months to commit to the process.