Are Dental Implants Always Suitable For Everyone?

Dental implants are the best available option when a permanent tooth has been lost. There are, of course, other ways to replace missing teeth (partial dentures, a dental bridge), but an implant is unique in that it involves a small titanium alloy screw placed in your jaw to replicate the tooth's root, with the prosthetic replacement tooth then affixed to the screw. This artificial tooth root allows the implant to behave just like a natural tooth, which dentures and dental bridges simply cannot do. While dental implants are the best solution, are you the best candidate for them?

Suitable Candidates

Most people with missing teeth are suitable candidates for dental implants. Even if you're not currently in an ideal state for the procedure, it's possible to become so. Most circumstances that prevent someone from receiving a dental implant don't need to be permanent circumstances. What are some examples of these potential obstacles and how they can be overcome?


Smoking and dental implants are not a happy combination. Smoking reduces circulation, which in turn slows the healing process. Implants are secured by a healing process, as your jawbone must regrow around the implant's screw. Your dentist may be unwilling to place a dental implant until you've made a concerted effort to stop smoking. Cessation of smoking is essential for the duration of the healing process—and generally beyond, as resuming smoking afterward still elevates your risk of implant failure.

Bone Density

Without sufficient mass in your jawbone, there won't be enough tissue for your implant to integrate. When its prosthetic tooth is subjected to the pressure of biting and chewing, the underlying implant will loosen and detach, which can be both distressing and uncomfortable. Bone mass in the jaw is depleted when a tooth is lost, as the bone no longer needs to support the bite pressure experienced by the tooth. This process is natural, but must be reversed via bone grafting (the manual addition of bone tissue to the deficit site) before an implant can be placed. This is generally only relevant when the tooth has been missing for an extended period of time, or if you experience a medical condition that affects bone density.

Gum Health 

Just as you need a healthy jawbone to host a dental implant, you're going to need healthy gums. Periodontal disease can devastate the soft tissues of your gums and can spread to the bone. Gum recession can cause an implant to look unnatural, while increased oral bacteria in your mouth arising from your gum disease can colonize the implant, which may lead to an infection. Gum disease typically must be treated before you can receive your dental implant.

There aren't all that many circumstances that can impact your suitability for a dental implant, and if they affect you, your dentist will talk you through them. With a little effort, most of these potential obstacles can be overcome.