Modern American Dentistry
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Am I a good candidate for dental implants?

There are 2 main factors that come into play when we are determining if the patient is a good candidate for dental implants.

Wound Healing

If the patient has an impaired immune system or impaired wound healing this can lower our chances of a successful outcome. A successful outcome is an integrated implant with healed bone around it. Some systemic conditions such as diabetes can delay wound healing.

Quantity of Bone and Proximity of Vital Structures

When placing a dental implant we need to have enough bone volume for the implant to fit. We need to have enough height and enough width. Implants come in various sizes and the larger the tooth the wider the implant needs to be. New research and evidence is showing that implant height is not as important as implant width so the use of shorter implants has allowed us to place more implants without the need for grafting.

When looking at bone height there are different vital structures that we have to take into consideration depending on if we are working on the upper arch or the lower arch.

X-Rays | Manhattan Beach Dentist

X-Rays | Manhattan Beach Dentist

In the upper arch we have the maxillary sinus to deal with. This is a large air filled space right behind your cheek bones. After an upper tooth has been missing for a long time, the sinus tends to pneumatize (it gets larger). A simple analogy is to think of the sinus as a tent and the tooth as the tent pole. When you take out the tent pole the tent (sinus) falls. If we don't have enough height on upper teeth to place an implant a procedure called a sinus lift is necessary. This involves placing bone graft material below the sinus membrane. In the lower arch we have the inferior alveolar nerve to deal with. This is a large nerve that runs inside your jaw bone and provides innervation to all of your lower teeth and gums. The nerve cannot be moved so if we do not have enough height to place an implant, bone grafting is needed to add height.

Dental Implant | Manhattan Beach Dentist

Implants | Manhattan Beach Dentist

When looking at bone width grafting is almost always needed if we have insufficient space. Bone grafting is used to bulk the area out and make it wider so that an implant of sufficient width can fit. Generally the rule of thumb is that you want the implant to be at least half the width of the tooth. If you have a molar that is 10mm wide, we would like to place an implant that is at least 5mm in width.

 

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