A dental implant can be a good option if you want to replace a missing tooth, but are you a candidate for implants?

how to see if you are a candidate for dental implants

If you have a missing tooth - or are soon to have one thanks to a planned extraction - it's important to consider getting a replacement. When a tooth is missing, it's not uncommon for the teeth around the gap to twist or move, sometimes causing an improper bite. Plus, there's the benefit of having an extra tooth to use for chewing, as well as an aesthetic factor if your smile is noticeably missing a tooth.

However, certain factors can impact dental implants and their efficiency. This means we’ll need to determine whether you’re a suitable candidate before undergoing treatment. And, even if you are a suitable candidate, there are a few things you’ll need to do after treatment in order to protect your dental implant.

If you've lost (or are about to lose) a tooth or several teeth, chances are you may be a candidate for implant dentistry! Here are some factors which affect your candidacy for implant treatment, as well as advice on helping a dental implant last as long as possible.

Major factors in dental implant candidacy

  • Gum health. The health of your gums is an integral factor in whether your implant will be successful. If you have gum disease or periodontal disease, we’ll need to treat those issues first.
  • Bone density. Similar to the health of your gums, bone density will play an important role in dental implants. You’ll need a sufficient amount of bone to support the implant.
  • Overall oral health. In general, the healthier your mouth is, the better candidate you’ll be for dental implants. Issues like oral cancer can complicate dental implants, so it’s a good idea to see us for an exam and aim for regular dental check-ups. That way, we can confirm that there will be no complicating factors. Also, if you smoke cigarettes, we strongly encourage giving up the habit!
  • Medical history. Certain conditions can affect your body’s ability to heal, which can complicate your implant procedure. It’s important to let us know about any health conditions you may have. We’ll be able to let you know if there are any risks and/or the best options for your circumstances.

If you’re worried that you may not be a candidate for dental implants, be sure to speak to us anyway. We’ve worked with many different patients with a variety of circumstance – we’re passionate about finding a solution that works for you as an individual.

Am I too old to get dental implants? Am I too young?

For many adults, age can have an effect on some of the factors we’ve discussed, like gum health and bone density. However, this doesn’t mean that the older you are, the less suitable a candidate you are. In fact, some younger adults may be less suitable candidates if they have advanced oral health issues. The best way to evaluate your suitability is for us to perform a thorough exam and evaluation.

However, age can indeed be a disqualifying factor for children. Children and most teenagers typically are not suitable candidates for implants, due to the continuing development of their jawbones.

Proper implant care: improving your implant’s success rate

Even if dental implants are the right treatment for you, post-treatment care is still important! Even the most suitable candidates can have problems with their implants if they fail to maintain proper oral hygiene and/or avoid regular dental check-ups.

In a clinical study that spanned eight years, implants had a 97% success rate1. The best ways to improve your implant’s success rate are to practice good oral hygiene and schedule routine check-ups as recommended by your dentist.

Initially, you’re likely to need extra check-up appointments during the first year to ensure the implant is settling well and isn't coming loose or causing any issues with your bite. After that, you’ll need to continue with a regular appointment schedule, during which we’ll perform an overall oral health check. This helps us monitor your overall oral health, while also keeping an eye on your implant.

At home, care for your implant in much the same way you would for any natural tooth. That is, twice daily brushing and flossing, as well as a diet that minimises sugary snacks and drinks. If you need any additional tips, your dentist will be sure to let you know after the procedure.

If you have a missing tooth and are looking for an option to replace it, a dental implant could be a good choice for you. Talk to your dentist about whether this procedure is suitable for you and what your next steps may be.

1 Busenlechner et al (2014). Long-term implant success at the Academy for Oral Implantology: 8-year follow-up and risk factor analysis. J Periodontal Implant Sci 44(3): 102-108. http://dx.doi.org/10.5051/jpis.2014.44.3.102