Every day, hundreds of new patients undergo dental implant surgery to replace missing teeth. After a few weeks of healing, they have complete, bright smiles again. Because implants prevent bone loss in the jaw, look just like normal teeth and last a lifetime, they're a popular choice among dental patients. However, there are some factors that make healing from dental implant surgery more challenging. If one of these factors apply to you, it's important for you and your dentist to discuss whether implant surgery is truly the healthiest choice for you.
Smoking greatly increases the chance that your body will reject the implant. Many implant patients who smoke also develop a condition known as peri-implantitis, in which deep pockets of inflammation form around the implanted tooth. For this reason, it is absolutely essential that you stop smoking at least 1 week in advance of your implant surgery, and that you avoid smoking following the operation. Many dentists will not even perform implant surgery on smoking patients, so this is a habit that you must break if you want to replace your missing teeth.
Immune System Deficiencies
If you have HIV/AIDS, have had an organ transplant, or suffer from a genetic immunodeficiency disorder, be sure to disclose these factors to your dentist when discussing the possibility of implants. Patients with weakened immune systems have an increased risk of infection following dental implant surgery and heal more slowly than patients with uncompromised immune systems. Whether or not dental implant surgery is right for you will depend on your personal medical history. Likely, your dental surgeon and medical doctor will confer to determine whether the benefits of implants outweigh the risk of poor healing in your case.
Ironically, many dentists recommend dental implants for osteoporosis patients who are missing teeth, since adding the implant actually slows bone loss around the missing tooth once the implant is established. However, osteoporosis patients do take longer to heal from implant surgery than normal patients, and they should be carefully monitored throughout the recovery period. Keep this in mind if you have osteoporosis and are considering implants – you're likely to have good results, but you'll spend longer recovering than the average person. Don't stall in making your decision. If you wait too long and your bone loss progresses too far, you won't have enough jaw bone left to support implants and they'll no longer be an option.
If you and your dentist decide that dental implants are the right choice for you regardless of one of the above conditions, make sure you pay careful attention to your body during the healing process. Knowing that you're at an increased risk of complications, take your medications exactly as directed, keep your follow-up appointments, and get plenty of rest. Some smokers, patients with osteoporosis, and patients