Dental Implants and Diabetes
Dental implants are an attractive option for replacing missing teeth. Functional, durable, attractive… dental implants offer a wide variety of advantages, especially as contrasted with the conventional dentures that used to be the standard for tooth replacement. For some, though, health conditions such as diabetes may leave one wondering if dental implants are for them. The following article will offer more insights in terms of the how and why, but the short answer is yes: if you are living with diabetes and the condition is under control, dental implants can not only be managed, but they can also improve your overall health and quality of life.
How Dental Implants Work
Dental implants are a composed of a three-part system of interworking parts. These include the implant fixture (a small post), the implant crown, bridge, or denture (the replacement teeth), and the abutment (the small piece that connects the implant with the fixture).
In the first step of installing dental implants, the implant fixture is surgically embedded into the jawbone beneath the gumline. During this process, the gums are opened up, the fixture is embedded into the jaw, and the gums are stitched up. The implant fixture remains out of sight below the gumline unless a healing abutment or cuff is placed at this time. Two to six months is then required for the implant fixture to become a part of the jaw through a process called osseointegration.
Once the implant fixture has become thoroughly embedded in the hard tissues of the jaw, the abutment can then be connected. During this process, the gums must be opened up again to gain access to the fixture. The abutment is connected, the gums are stitched back up, and then a shorter healing period is required to allow the soft tissues of the gums to heal.
Finally, the implant itself can be attached to the foundational structure created by the implant fixture and abutment. Because the replacement tooth (or teeth, in the case of implant-retained bridges or dentures) is supported by deep structural support extending into the jaw, just as natural teeth are, these prosthetics are incredibly strong and durable.
Dental Implants for Diabetics: Concerns and Considerations
Because diabetes can pose challenges surrounding surgical interventions, primarily due to the ways in which the disease can affect healing, many diabetics have real doubts and concerns about their candidacy for this kind of procedure. Certainly, good baseline health is an important consideration when determining whether or not a patient is a good candidate for dental implants.
Age and other underlying health conditions should be considered, as these factors can have an impact on a diabetic patient’s suitability for dental implants. While age and diabetes in and of themselves do not disqualify a patient from pursuing dental implants as a tooth replacement technology, advanced age plus diabetes can pose some concerns, as this particular group of patients tends to have more problems following surgery. Baseline health then becomes a key issue, and this should be carefully discussed and considered by one’s oral surgeon in the exploration and planning phases.
Underlying health conditions in conjunction with diabetes can also create cause for concern. Some underlying health conditions that can complicate the installation of dental implants include advanced gum disease, oral cancer, inadequate bone density, or any underlying condition that affects healing. Smoking is also a risk factor for dental implants, or any other surgical intervention, as it limits one’s ability to heal and increases the chances of infection.
However, diabetes does not necessarily preclude the installation of dental implants. Numerous studies have demonstrated that if a patient’s diabetes is under control at the time of surgery, they do not tend to have more adverse reactions or post-surgical complications than any other group. This means that if your diabetes is under control, dental implants are just as safe for you as they are for anyone else, and the rates of complications for dental implants in general is very low.
Benefits of Dental Implants for Diabetics
Dental implants are not only possible for those living with diabetes, but they can also have a positive impact on a diabetic’s overall health and quality of life.
As an alternative to conventional dentures, they can reduce irritation, inflammation, and even infections in the mouth by eliminating the friction that is all too often part and parcel of dentures that float around in the mouth, easily shifted out of place by eating or even talking. Because dental implants are anchored deep into the jaw by way of their streamlined structure, these prosthetics stay firmly in place at all times. This is a benefit for anyone with dental implants, but it is especially meaningful for diabetics, particularly, as even minor wounds can become big problems during times in which one’s diabetes is not adequately controlled.
With the increased function and reliability of dental implants, diabetics can more easily maintain a nutritious diet that includes a wide variety of foods. While conventional dentures can limit one’s food choices, dental implants make all kinds of foods possible to eat and enjoy. And as those living with diabetes know very well, food is an integral component of maintaining one’s overall and diabetes-specific health, so this ability effectively supports a healthy nutritional lifestyle that can in turn benefit one’s overall health.
Bottom Line: Are Dental Implants Right for Me?
If you are diabetic and considering dental implants, the best way to gain more information and insight is to schedule a consultation with your dentist or oral surgeon. You should be prepared to discuss the current state of your health, including your diabetes and any other risk factors that could have an impact on the success of the procedure.
During the consultation, the dentist or oral surgeon will be able to give you advice and insight about your individual candidacy for dental implants, and they will also talk you through the process and choices to be made. If you’ve been putting this off because you thought your diabetes put dental implants out of reach, put those worries aside and schedule a consultation today. You might be surprised to learn that dental implants are not only possible but a solid investment in your continued health and vitality.