Dental Implants and Diabetes

Dental Implants and Diabetes
If you have missing teeth you want to replace and are considering tooth replacement treatments, you may be curious about dental implants. Dental implants are an effective and reliable tooth replacement treatment. Implant treatment is a great option for almost everyone, even patients with pre-existing health conditions, like diabetes. For patients with diabetes, dental implants offer a safe and secure tooth replacement option. Below is more information on dental implant treatment for patients with diabetes, including benefits of the treatment and specifics on eligibility criteria.

What are Dental Implants?
A dental implant is a post, usually made from titanium or ceramic, that is surgically placed in the jawbone. Once installed, the implant will act like the root of the new artificial tooth. Dental implants offer improved comfort, durability, and stability over many of the alternative tooth replacement options, like dentures or bridges. After the minor implant installation procedure, a several month healing period is necessary to allow time for the implant to fuse with the jawbone. This critical fusing process is what makes dental implants so secure and also so unique. Once the implant has successfully fused with the bone, an artificial tooth, called a crown, can be attached to the top of the post and the treatment is complete.

Eligibility Criteria For Dental Implants
Almost anyone is an eligible candidate for dental implants if they have good bone health. Dental implant treatment requires healthy bone and mouth tissue, and healthy healing for the treatment to be successful. If a patient’s diabetes is well-managed, having diabetes will not be a barrier to eligibility for dental implant treatment. However, before a dentist will agree to an implant treatment plan for a patient with diabetes, there are some important factors they will want to discuss, including:
* Is the diabetes under control? Uncontrolled diabetes can increase the risk of post-procedure infection and impair the implant from fusing successfully with the jawbone. However, if diabetes is well-managed, the risk of complications or implant failure will be the same for patients with diabetes as it is for patients without diabetes.
* Type 1 or type 2 diabetes? Type 1 diabetes is often more challenging to control than type 2 diabetes. Therefore, patients with type 1 diabetes may have a slightly higher risk of complications with implant treatment than those with type 2 diabetes. Patients with type 1 diabetes are still eligible for dental implants, however their oral surgeon may want to spend more time discussing their diabetes management, medical history, dental records, and past history of infection.
* What is the individual’s healing process? Implant treatment success depends heavily on the body’s natural ability to heal. After the implant surgery, a healing period is required to allow time for the implant to fuse with the jawbone. This fusing process, called osseointegration, is what makes dental implants a more permanent, stable, and secure solution than a bridge or conventional dentures. The gums will also heal around the implant during this period. For patients with diabetes, especially uncontrolled diabetes, the body’s healing process can be much slower. Patients with diabetes who are considering dental implant treatment should work with their physician to lock in their diabetes management plan before committing to dental implant treatment.

* What is the patient’s general health? A patient’s general health has a big impact on the success of their dental implant. There are many health conditions that can complicate dental implant treatment, including:
* Pre-existing gum disease
* Low bone density or poor bone health
* Health issues that challenge healing
* Smoking: Regularly smoking cigarettes or cigars will delay the healing of the gums and bone tissue. On top of delayed healing, the sucking action involved in smoking can impact the healing of the implants
* Pre-existing oral cancer or oral cancer treatment

During the first implant consultation appointment, the dentist and/or oral surgeon will want to discuss the patient’s overall health and if the patient has any of these conditions. Fortunately, many providers will not rule a patient out if they have one of these conditions. Instead, they will consider moving forward with the patient and helping them work with their primary care provider to develop a treatment plan to eventually get the dental implants they desire.
Benefits of Dental Implants
For patients with diabetes, dental implants offer many benefits beyond just replacement teeth. Some of the major benefits of dental implants include:
* Restoring the function of the teeth, including eating and speaking: Many other tooth replacement options offer a temporary fix to restoring eating and speaking function. Dental implants offer a more permanent, reliable solution.
* Enhancing the appearance of the smile: Unlike the alternatives, dental implants look like natural teeth and enhance the appearance of the smile.
* Ability to maintain a well-balanced diet: Implants help patients eat a healthier diet, including fresh whole foods. Many patients with conventional dentures are not able to eat fresh whole foods, like fruits and vegetables.
* Reducing irritation: Due to poor fit, conventional dentures often cause irritation which can lead to inflammation and infection. Dental implants eliminate unnecessary irritation by offering a superior fit in the mouth.
* Improved comfort: Issues with fit often cause conventional dentures to shift and slip in the mouth which can cause discomfort. Due to their secure placement in the jawbone, dental implants offer a more stable and comfortable fit.
* Ease of care: After the multiple stage implant treatment process, implants only require daily brushing and flossing for maintenance. Easy maintenance is a big benefit for patients with more complicated diabetes management plans.
* Improved Quality of Life: Dental implants will improve the patient’s quality of life in many ways, including restored chewing and speaking function, minimizing discomfort and irritation, the minimal maintenance required, and through all of the benefits of a new beautiful smile, restored self-confidence.

If you have diabetes and are interested in dental implants, you should have a conversation with your dental provider. Prior to committing to an implant treatment plan, they will want to discuss the many important factors involved in a successful implant treatment, including your oral health and your overall health.