If you know that you're going to need tooth replacement, and you want the longest-lasting, most functional, and most natural-looking replacement teeth you can get, then dental implants are the clear choice for you. Dental implants look, feel, and function just like natural teeth, and they can last the rest of your life if you care for them properly, just like natural teeth. The big question is this: are you a candidate for dental implants? Take a look at a few bad habits that could derail your dental implant dreams.
If you're a smoker or tobacco user, your dentist has probably already warned you that your habit is not good for your dental health. It isn't good for dental implants, either. Smoking can actually increase the chances that your dental implants will fail to integrate properly with your jaw bone.
Smoking impedes blood flow to the tissues in your mouth, and without adequate blood flow, your surgical site may not heal as fast as it should. Prolonging your healing phase puts you at greater risk of an infection that could disrupt your implant, and tobacco use also takes a toll on your immune system, which puts you at even greater risk of infection.
Smoking doesn't necessarily rule out the possibility of getting dental implants, but it's important to disclose your smoking habits to your dentist. Your dentist will need to know in order to create a treatment plan that will work for you.
Chances are that your dentist will ask you to stop smoking for at least some time before and after your surgery, to give your body the best chance to heal. Your dentist or doctor may be able to recommend techniques or medications that can help you stop smoking and fight cravings during this time.
Do you have a habit of grinding your top and bottom teeth together when you're stressed or anxious? Maybe you do it during the night when you're sleeping, and you're unable to stop. This bad habit, which is really a condition known as bruxism, can also affect your dental implant plans.
The problem with bruxism is that it places excessive pressure on your teeth. Once your implants are in place, excessive pressure could prevent your implants from fusing with your jawbone, leading to implant failure.
It's not impossible for patients with bruxism to get dental implants, but your condition will need to be treated first. Sometimes it's a dental problem that causes bruxism, like tooth misalignment. Your dentist may be able to treat you for the underlying problem that is causing your tooth grinding before your dental implant procedure. If you grind your teeth at night while you sleep, a mouth guard custom-designed by your dentist may be able to stop you from grinding your teeth, which will protect your new implants.
Dental Implant Success Rate
Even if you think that you may have a habit that will make dental implants more difficult, it's important not to count yourself out before talking to your dentist. Dental implants have a very high success rate — between 95 and 98 percent. That means that if your dentist thinks you're a good candidate, you've got a high chance of success. Dental implants also have fewer complications than some other tooth replacement options, like bridges.
The best thing that you can do to ensure dental implant success is to talk honestly with your dentist about all your potential risk factors, including any bad habits that you might have. Don't be embarrassed. You won't be telling your dentist anything they haven't heard before, and with detailed information from you, your dentist can create a treatment plan tailored to your needs that can ensure dental implant success. To learn more, contact a dentist like Richard L. Myers, DDS.