Are Dental Implants Still An Option If I Have Gum Disease?

With any corrective surgery involving new or replacement parts, the body must be in proper condition to be able to support new structures. This is especially the case with dental implants.

Dental implants are increasingly popular procedures for fixing or replacing teeth that have decayed or been lost. The success of dental implant relies on the strength and health of surrounding parts of the mouth, specifically the gums and jawbone—parts that are especially vulnerable to common gum diseases.

What does a patient with existing gum conditions have to address when considering having dental implants?

Common gum disease symptoms

Some of the telltale signs of adverse gum conditions include soreness, irritation, or excessive bleeding in the gums themselves. Other signs may include mouth infections, the decay of tooth matter or enamel, or even bad breath.

As with any physical symptoms the human body experiences, these may be indicative of a wide range of problems, but they’re most commonly associated with gingivitis and other gum diseases. Left untreated, gum disease can lead to structural erosion, such as advanced tooth decay, loss of bone matter, or gum line recession.

Treat the disease first

In all cases, dental implants take second place to consideration of one’s overall oral health. If a prospective implant patient has gum disease or conditions that can lead to it, it’s important to get it treated and neutralized before they receive dental implant treatment.

The roots of dental implants are intended and designed to bond as naturally as possible to supporting bones in the jawline. For that to happen, the bone must be wide and thick enough to bear the implant roots. If too much of the bone has eroded, it can’t support the implant. Gum disease weakens the structure of the bone, making it unsuitable for root support.

Dental implants also need healthy gum tissue to take hold. Gum tissue must conform and envelop the new implant and keep the lower part of the crown in place. Untreated gum disease can shrink and erode the tissue, making it too weak to support the new implant.

Restoring gum and bone tissue with grafts

If a patient experiences a great loss of tissue through the ravages of gum disease, the dentist needs to reinforce the underlying bone structure before applying dental implants. The most common method for this operation is bone grafting.

Oral grafting infuses external bone matter onto a jawbone at positions where it needs to be reinforced. Dentists can use bone tissue that comes from donors or potentially matter from other bones in the body—most commonly from the hip, tibia, or another part of the jaw. Some companies make artificial bones as well.

Jawbone grafts are held in position so that they stimulate the growth of natural bone matter around it. After the graft operation, dentists can also perform guided tissue generation, which regulates the growth of gum tissue, so it doesn’t interfere with the development of the grafted jawbone.

Consult with your dentist

The short answer: Diagnosis of gum disease doesn’t ruin your chances of ever receiving dental implants—but before you get them, you have to get the gum condition resolved first. Your dental practitioner can always help.

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