Dental implants are the highest quality tooth replacement option, making them a popular choice for people who are missing one or more teeth. Dental implants provide a natural look and function that can last for the rest of your life.
If you need restorative or cosmetic improvements to your teeth, you may be wondering if you’re a candidate for dental implants. Here’s what dentists look for when determining your eligibility.
How Dental Implants Work
To understand what is required to be a candidate for dental implants, it helps to understand what they are and how they work. A dental implant is an artificial tooth root that is surgically placed in the jaw bone. It is made of titanium and shaped like a screw with threads to help it fuse with the bone. When the implant is fully bonded to the jaw, an artificial tooth can be attached. A single dental implant can replace one tooth and multiple implants can provide support for a bridge or dentures.
What Are the Requirements for Dental Implants?
For a dental implant to be successful, there must be sufficient bone structure in the jaw to support it. A certain width, depth, and density of bone are required for an implant to fit securely, otherwise it could fail. If the bone in the upper jaw is not thick enough, the implant could puncture the sinus cavity.
Why wouldn’t there be enough bone structure? Because the jaw bone weakens and gradually resorbs (dissolves) when there is no tooth root in the socket. The longer a tooth has been missing, the greater the likelihood that the bone is too thin or weak to support a dental implant.
What Are My Options if I’m Not a Candidate for Dental Implants?
There are alternatives if you are not a candidate for dental implants, such as:
- Dental Bridge. If you are missing one or two teeth in a row, a dental bridge could be an option for you. A bridge consists of two crowns with artificial teeth (pontics) suspended between them. The crowns fit over the healthy teeth on either side of the gap and the pontics sit on top of the gums to fill the space. The condition of your jaw bone is not important when it comes to getting a bridge.
- Dentures. If you need to have many or all of your teeth replaced, traditional dentures are an alternative option to dental implants. Traditional dentures attach to the gums via suction or adhesives. Partial dentures attach to the remaining teeth in your mouth with metal clasps.
- Bone Grafting. There is a way to regenerate lost bone tissue, so that dental implants can be an option for you. Bone grafting is a procedure that involves placing a bone fragment under the gums on top of the existing bone. It bonds with the existing bone to thicken it and encourage regrowth of the lost bone tissue. It can take a few months for the jaw bone to be ready for a dental implant, but the wait is worth it for a better quality restoration.
How Do I Know if I’m a Candidate for Dental Implants?
The first step is an evaluation. Dr. Donald Miller of Cosmetic and Reconstructive Dentistry in Fairfield, CT can evaluate the current condition of your jaw bone to determine if it is ready to support an implant. From there, we can either make an appointment for dental implant placement or discuss the alternative options for tooth replacement.
Dr. Donald Miller and his team welcome the opportunity to work with you and your family to care for your overall dental health. Please consider scheduling a complimentary consultation with Dr. Donald Miller of Cosmetic & Reconstructive Dentistry today. Call 203-255-6878 or click here to schedule an appointment.
Dr. Miller specializes in general, family and cosmetic dentistry and is an active member of the Fairfield, CT community. He has practiced dentistry in Fairfield for over 25 years. Get to know Dr. Miller better by visiting our website. You can also read Google Reviews submitted by patients for a personal recommendation.