If you have been considering dental implants, your research has probably told you that they have a very high success rate. That’s true, the success rate of dental implants ranges from 93-98%, depending on which study you look at.
And once dental implants are in place, they tend to stay there–they can even last a lifetime. The first dental implant patient had his for over 40 years before he passed away, and even large 20-year studies show that 93% or more of implants are still securely in place.
But these studies don’t tell us that we can take success for granted. Instead, there are some key ingredients that go into making for a successful dental implant procedure. Here are five of them.
Dental implants don’t benefit from a wait-and-see approach. Once it becomes clear that you won’t be able to save a tooth, or if it’s already been removed, then you want to get your implants as soon as possible.
Once your tooth has been removed, your body will begin to remove bone from that area, but we need that bone to support your dental implants. We can often work with diminished bone, but it’s better if we don’t have to.
Once your implants have been placed, your body will begin building bone around them. This process is crucial to securing the implants, and to do it properly your body needs to be healthy. You need to practice good oral hygiene to keep gum disease under control, since it can attack your dental implants the same as it attacks your teeth and will erode the bone around your implants.
While you’re healing, you should also make sure you’re getting all the vitamins and minerals your body needs to build bone. The good news is that there are many great options for getting these nutrients, whether you’re an omnivore or on a special diet such as vegan or even paleo.
Dental implants benefit from precise placement, which means that you should select a dental practice that uses cone beam computed tomography (CBCT) to plan your implant procedure. This form of 3D x-ray allows dentists to determine the exact volume and density of your bones so that implant placement can be planned out precisely before surgery begins. It uses less radiation than traditional CT scans, and can be focused on your jaw region to give better resolution. And if you’re claustrophobic, it has an open design, so you won’t feel confined.
Other technological tools can help, too, such as a soft tissue laser that can help manage your gums around the implant to achieve the most natural appearance. Ask any dentist you’re considering about the technology they use and how it will improve your odds of success.
Expertise and Experience
But nothing will make more of a difference to your success rate than the skill level of your implant dentist. Studies have shown that the experience of your dentist is the single most important factor in determining your success rate, so be very picky in the dentist you choose.
Ask a dentist about his education in the dental implant process, including any postgraduate education. Be detailed–not all dental training courses are created equal. You want someone with more than a weekend’s training in implant placement. Ask them about their experience placing dental implants, including how often they place implants.
Not all dentists place dental implants themselves. There’s nothing wrong with referring the surgical part to a specialist, but make sure you talk to the dentist who will actually be placing the implants.
Finally, you have to be committed to your dental implant procedure. Dental implants are a lifetime commitment, and you have to be prepared to take care of them. Fortunately, the requirements for caring for dental implants are not too strenuous. First, make all your follow-up visits. Next, commit to making regular check-ups, and making them more frequent if your dentist requests them. Finally, you have to brush and floss normally. Brush at least twice a day and floss every day to protect your implants.