By: Jean Johnson for Dental1Part Two
Technique and methods of the specialist are only half of the bargain when it comes to the success of the procedure. Indeed patients – if they are willing – can do much to improve both their short and long term prospects.
|At a Glance|
|Tips to Improve Your Dental Implant Success Rate:|
1. Good oral care after each meal
2. Abstaining from tobacco
3. Maintaining good overall physical health
4. Controlling diabetes
First on all the lists of patient-dependent situations is oral hygiene. According to Dan Peterson, D.D.S. of Family Gentle Dental Care in Gering, Neb., “the most common cause of implant failure is poor oral hygiene.” Peterson observes that “flossing and brushing around the fixtures at least twice a day” is critical. Bone loss that is always a concern with implants can be aggravated if patients do not keep the gums surrounding the implants clean and inflammation extends into the supporting bone.
John C. Lee, D.D.S, division director in operative dentistry in the department of restorative dentistry at Oregon Health and & Science University in Portland, Ore. noted that much depends on patient history. “It cuts back to why the patient lost the teeth in the beginning. If it was a congenital situation where the teeth never appeared, or maybe a traffic accident that caused the loss of the teeth, you can expect implants to last a very long time with good oral hygiene and proper case planning,” Lee said. “But if the loss stemmed from neglect and periodontal or gum disease, then there’s no really any way to be sure of the prognosis. People that didn’t care for their natural teeth have to develop new habits and sometimes this is difficult to for them to do.”
Smoking is another factor influencing implant success. “Nicotine is dreadful substance,” said Lee. “It compromises the circulation in the mouth and thus the healing and osseointegration. Smokers have a 16 percent greater chance of their implants failing than others, although if they quit for keeps six weeks before their surgery they can level the playing field.”
Patients with diabetes are also considered vulnerable candidates for implants because they are slow to heal. Still, according to Thomas J. Balshi, D.D.S., F.A.C.P. and Glenn J. Wolfinger, D.M.D., F.A.C.P. of Prostodontics Intermedica in Pennsylvania, “a high rate of success is achievable when dental implants are placed in diabetic patients whose disease is under control.”
So whether physical or behavioral, the idea is that patients who manage factors that predispose them to implant failure can expect a more favorable outcome. Getting the nicotine monkey off one’s back, taking the time to floss 8-10 swipes per surface faithfully after each meal and watching diet and activity if diabetic. All that self care may not be the most exciting thing in life, but it tends to pay off in a major way.
“Predictability is what you want with dental implants,” Lee said. “Patients expect that from their specialists, but they need to realize they play a big part in the success or failure of their case.”