12 Factors to Consider When Getting Dental Implants

Updated on April 14, 2024

Are you considering dental implants as a solution for severely damaged or missing teeth? Many individuals explore this dental treatment option when they want to restore their smiles. While dental implants offer a durable and natural-looking solution for replacing missing or damaged teeth, it’s crucial to assess whether they’re the right choice for you. 

What Is a Dental Implant?

A dental implant consists of a small post usually made from titanium. It is surgically placed in the jawbone to replace the root of a missing or extracted tooth. An abutment is then attached to the implant to serve as a connector to the custom-made crown. When the crown is attached, your completed dental implant will look and function like a natural tooth.

Dental implants represent a significant long-term investment in your oral health and overall well-being. Studies show that the success rate of titanium dental implants is an impressive 98.7% over a 5-year period when they are planned and placed by an experienced implant specialist using high-quality implant materials. If you are considering dental implants, it’s essential to carefully evaluate the following 12 factors to ensure you make the best decision. 

1. Your Oral Health

According to dental implant specialist Dimitri Salin, “your oral health is the most important factor when considering dental implants.” Thus, a thorough assessment of your oral health is paramount before undergoing any dental implant treatment. During this assessment, your dentist will examine the condition of your teeth and gums to ensure they are completely free from decay, infection, and gum disease. 

If any underlying dental issues affecting your mouth are found, they must be addressed before implant placement to minimize the risk of complications and ensure the long-term success of your implant.

2. Your Jawbone Density and Quality

The density and quality of your jawbone play a critical role in the success of dental implant treatment. Dr Salin explains that you must “have sufficient bone quality and quantity before proceeding with implant treatment.” 

When a tooth is missing for an extended period, the jawbone undergoes a process called resorption, where it gradually loses density, width, and height. This deterioration not only affects the mouth but also alters facial appearance and can impair eating and speaking. Once significant bone loss occurs, it becomes challenging to successfully attach an implant to the jawbone.

So how do you know if you have sufficient bone? Your jawbone will be assessed through a physical exam and X-rays to determine how much bone you have and if it’s healthy. If you have experienced bone loss due to missing teeth or other factors, your dentist may recommend bone grafting procedures to augment the jawbone and improve its density. This additional step may extend the treatment timeline but is essential for ensuring the longevity of the implants.

3. Your Overall Health

You may be curious as to why your overall health matters in the context of your mouth and teeth. The simple answer is that your physical well-being can be closely related to your oral health. Certain medical conditions such as uncontrolled diabetes, autoimmune disorders, bleeding disorders, or immune deficiencies may affect the healing process and increase the risk of complications. 

It’s crucial to discuss any underlying health issues, medical history, and current medications along with any alcohol or tobacco use with your dentist to assess their impact on your eligibility for implants.

4. Your Commitment to Good Oral Hygiene

Ongoing proper oral hygiene is paramount for the long-term success of dental implants. Just like natural teeth, implants require regular brushing, flossing, and regular professional dental cleanings and checkups.

5. Your Age 

While exceptions exist, patients under 18 years old are generally not considered suitable candidates for dental implants unless their jaw has fully matured so it can adequately support the implant. Typically, jaw development concludes during the late teenage or early adult years, and premature implant placement may hinder correct bone development.

Conversely, while there is no maximum age limit for getting implants, older individuals may face challenges due to overall health and bone density issues that can impact the procedure’s success. However, age alone doesn’t dictate eligibility! Your overall health and individual dental assessment are paramount in determining if you are a good candidate for implants.

6. Your Lifestyle and Habits

Factors such as lifestyle and habits play an important role when considering dental implants. Individuals participating in activities with a high risk of facial trauma, like contact sports, may need additional precautions to safeguard their implants. Similarly, habits such as teeth grinding (bruxism) or clenching require special protocols, such as wearing a nightguard, to prevent implant damage and failure.

Moreover, smoking significantly impacts the success of dental implants. Dr Salin underscores that “smoking can compromise osseointegration and healing” of dental implants due to reduced blood flow, impaired immune function, and decreased bone density. Therefore, patients who smoke should be aware of these risks and consider quitting smoking to enhance their chances of successful implantation and long-term oral health.

7. Learn About the Dental Implant Procedure

Understanding the three phases of the dental implant procedure is crucial before making a decision. Titanium posts are surgically placed into your jawbone to act as artificial tooth roots during phase one. Over time, these implants fuse with the bone through osseointegration to create a sturdy foundation for the prosthetic teeth. The second phase involves a connector called an abutment being attached to your implant. The final phase, which completes the procedure, is when your crown is attached to the abutment. Having a clear understanding of each phase of the procedure can alleviate any concerns or uncertainties you may have before moving forward.

8. Understand the Time Commitment Required

The dental implant process typically involves multiple stages and requires a significant time commitment from start to finish. From the initial consultation to the final placement of the prosthetic teeth, it’s typically 6 to 8 months. However, the treatment timeline can vary depending on individual factors such as your bone health and healing capacity. It’s essential to understand and be prepared for the time required for each stage of treatment to ensure a successful outcome.

9. Consider the Costs Involved

Dental implants are a significant financial investment in your oral health and overall quality of life. Before proceeding with treatment, it’s essential to discuss the cost of implants, any additional procedures required, and potential insurance coverage or financing options. While the initial cost of implants may seem daunting, it’s important to consider the long-term benefits they offer, including improved oral function, aesthetics, and overall well-being.

10. Know the Benefits of Dental Implants

This innovative dental solution offers a multitude of advantages and benefits.

  • Improved Oral Health: Dental implants replace missing teeth and enhance overall oral health by preventing complications such as the shifting of adjacent teeth, misalignment, and subsequent tooth loss—issues commonly associated with other tooth replacement methods.
  • Enhanced Aesthetics: Dental implants improve your smile and facial appearance by closely resembling natural teeth.
  • Improved Chewing: With dental implants, you can regain the ability to bite and chew properly, expanding your dietary options.
  • Longevity: Dental implants are a durable, long-term solution for tooth loss. Made from titanium and biocompatible materials, they have the potential to last a lifetime with proper care.
  • Jawbone Preservation: Implants stimulate growth in the jawbone, thereby averting the common bone loss associated with tooth loss. This also aids in preserving your facial structure and overall oral health.
  • Speech Enhancement: Dental implants provide stability to dental prostheses, preventing slippage and improving speech, and can restore your confidence in communication.
  • Convenience and Comfort: Unlike removable dentures, dental implants eliminate the need for adhesives and offer greater comfort and convenience in your daily life.
  • Improved Self-Esteem and Self-Confidence: By replacing missing or damaged teeth, implants can boost your self-esteem and self-confidence in social and professional settings.
  • Prevent Premature Aging: Dental implants help prevent the sagging of facial muscles and premature aging by maintaining jawbone structure and facial contours.

11. Weigh the Risks of Dental Implants

Like any medical procedure, dental implants do have risks that should be carefully considered before making a decision. The FDA has stated the following risks are associated with dental implants.

  • Damage and Injury: During dental implant placement, there’s a risk of damaging nearby natural teeth or structures. There is also a risk of fracturing the surrounding jawbone, which can lead to complications. Please note that these kinds of injuries can usually be avoided by choosing an experienced implant dentist for your treatment.
  • Infection: Inadequate cleaning during the procedure or poor oral hygiene afterward can increase the risk of infection. Additionally, factors such as a misaligned bite, an allergic reaction to the implant material, smoking, and certain chronic health conditions can contribute to infection at the implant site.
  • Sinusitis: In some cases, upper jaw implants may extend into the sinus cavity, leading to sinusitis (an inflammation or infection of the sinus cavity).
  • Nerve Damage: The use of anesthetic needles or implant drills may inadvertently damage nearby nerves. Additionally, there is a possibility of nerve compression after the implant is placed in the jawbone. Furthermore, bruising and swelling following the surgery may exert pressure on the nerves. However, typically, this type of nerve injury tends to heal naturally over time.
  • Inadequate Function: Patients may experience a sensation that the teeth do not bite together normally after an implant placement, affecting their ability to chew and speak comfortably.
  • Loose Sensation: Some patients may feel a sensation like the tooth is loose or twisting due to a loosened abutment screw, which can cause discomfort and uncertainty.
  • Implant Failure: Implant failure can occur due to various reasons, including systemic infection, which is more likely in patients with uncontrolled diabetes, local infection in the bone and gums around the implant, and delayed healing, usually attributed to smoking.

While the likelihood of experiencing these issues is relatively low, it’s important to weigh them against the benefits of dental implants and discuss any concerns with your dentist before proceeding with treatment.

12. Locate an Experienced Dental Implant Specialist

Before undergoing dental implant treatment, it’s vital to consult with an experienced implant dentist. Seek out a dentist with a proven track record of successful implant procedures and extensive expertise in implant dentistry. During the consultation, request to view before and after photos of previous implant cases to assess the dentist’s skill and aesthetic results. Additionally, consider reviewing online feedback from past patients to gain insights into their experiences.

A knowledgeable dentist will conduct a comprehensive assessment of your oral health, discuss your treatment goals, and address any concerns to ensure you feel confident and well-informed about the implant process before proceeding with your treatment.

Make an Informed Choice With the Help of a Dental Implant Specialist

Deciding on dental implants involves careful consideration of various factors to ensure the best possible outcome. From assessing oral health and jawbone density to understanding the procedure, costs, and risks, each aspect plays a crucial role in determining suitability for implants. Additionally, factors such as lifestyle and commitment to oral hygiene must be taken into account to achieve long-term success. 

Ultimately, consulting with an experienced implant dentist is paramount, as they can provide personalized recommendations and guidance throughout the treatment journey, ensuring you feel confident and informed every step of the way. With thorough evaluation and expert guidance, dental implants can offer a durable and natural-looking solution for restoring your smile and improving your overall oral health and well-being.

The Editorial Team at Healthcare Business Today is made up of skilled healthcare writers and experts, led by our managing editor, Daniel Casciato, who has over 25 years of experience in healthcare writing. Since 1998, we have produced compelling and informative content for numerous publications, establishing ourselves as a trusted resource for health and wellness information. We offer readers access to fresh health, medicine, science, and technology developments and the latest in patient news, emphasizing how these developments affect our lives.