Dental Implants and Diabetes

If you have recently lost teeth and are considering tooth replacement treatments, you may be wondering if dental implants are the right solution for you. Dental implants are a safe and reliable tooth replacement treatment for almost everyone, even patients with pre-existing health conditions, such as diabetes. For patients with diabetes, dental implants offer a durable and secure tooth replacement option that can also help improve the patient’s oral health. Here is more information on dental implants for individuals with diabetes, including details on eligibility criteria and the benefits of dental implants.

What are Dental Implants?

Dental implants are titanium or ceramic posts that are securely installed in the jawbone during a surgical procedure. Once placed, the implant will act like the stable and secure root of the new tooth. Compared to many of the alternative tooth replacement options, dental implants offer improved comfort, durability, and stability. After the implant installation surgery, a several month healing period is required to allow time for the implant to fuse with the jawbone. Once the implant has successfully fused with the bone, an abutment and artificial crown can be attached to the top and the treatment is complete.

Does Having Diabetes Impact a Patient’s Eligibility For Dental Implants?

For patients with diabetes, having diabetes is not a barrier preventing them from being eligible for dental implant treatment. If their diabetes is well-managed, the treatment can be just as safe and successful as it is for a patient without diabetes. However, dental implant treatment requires healthy bone and mouth tissue, and healthy healing. Before a dentist will agree to an implant treatment plan for a patient with diabetes, there will be some important factors that must be considered, including:

  • Is the diabetes under control? If diabetes is well-managed, the risk of complications or implant failure is exactly the same for patients with diabetes as it is for patients without diabetes. However, uncontrolled diabetes can increase the risk of post-procedure infection and implant failure.
  • Type 1 or type 2 diabetes? For many, type 1 diabetes is more challenging to control than type 2 diabetes. Thus, patients with type 1 diabetes may have a slightly higher risk of complications than those with type 2 diabetes. Patients with type 1 diabetes are not ineligible for dental implants, however their oral surgeon may want to spend more time discussing their oral health and diabetes management. The surgeon may want to fully review their medical history, dental records, and past history of infection.
  • What is the individual’s healing process? Dental implant treatment success depends heavily on the body’s natural healing ability. After the implant surgery, a healing period is required to allow time for the implant to fuse with the jawbone in a process called osseointegration. This process of the implant fusing with the bone is what makes dental implants a more permanent, stable, and secure solution than bridges or conventional dentures. During this healing period the gums will also heal around the implant. For patients with diabetes, especially patients with uncontrolled diabetes, the body’s healing process can be much slower.
  • Patients with diabetes who are considering dental implant treatment should focus on working with their physician on their diabetes management plan before committing to dental implant treatment.

What is the patient’s general health? Despite what you may think, a patient’s general health has a bigger impact on the success of a dental implant than age. There are several health conditions that can severely complicate dental implant treatment, including:

  • Pre-existing gum or periodontal disease
  • Low bone density or poor bone health
  • Other issues that may challenge the post-implant healing period
  • Smoking: cigarette or cigar smoking will delay the healing of the gums and bone tissue. On top of delayed healing, the sucking action involved in smoking can compromise the healing of the implants
  • Pre-existing oral cancer or oral cancer treatment
  • Any other health condition that compromises the body’s healing ability

During the initial 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 also consider working with patients who are initially unable to move forward with implant treatment and help them develop a plan to work toward to eventually get the dental implants they desire.

Benefits of Dental Implants

Dental implants offer many benefits beyond just replacement teeth for patients with diabetes. For patients with diabetes, some of the major benefits of implants include:

  • Restoring eating and speaking function: Many of the other tooth replacement options offer a temporary fix to restoring eating and speaking function. However, dental implants offer a more permanent reliable solution.
  • Enhancing the appearance of the smile: Unlike the alternatives, dental implants look like natural teeth, enhancing the appearance of the natural smile.
    Ability to maintain a well-balanced diet: Additionally, implants help patients eat fresh whole foods, like fruits and vegetables, that they may not be able to eat with conventional dentures.
  • Reducing irritation: Due to poor fit, conventional dentures commonly cause inflammation, irritation and possibly infection. Dental implants can eliminate unnecessary irritation by offering a superior fit in the mouth.
  • Improved comfort: Conventional dentures are more likely 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 in the mouth.
  • Ease of care: Dental implants may not be as quick of a solution upfront, but after the treatment procedure they only require daily brushing and flossing for maintenance which can be a big benefit for patients with more complicated diabetes management plans.
  • Improved Quality of Life: Dental implants improve the quality of patient’s life in many ways, including improved self-confidence, restored chewing and speaking function, and less discomfort and irritation.

If you have diabetes and are interested in dental implants, you should have a conversation with your dental provider to see if you may be eligible. Your provider will want to assess your oral health and overall health prior to committing to an implant treatment plan.

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