Written by: By Sonia Bennett, DDS, Diplomate, American Board of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery (OMFS)
Have you been told that you are not a candidate for dental implants? Approximately 178 million American adults are missing at least one tooth, and 40 million more are missing all of their teeth. Although many people suffer from tooth loss, modern dental implants have made it possible to regain a beautiful functional smile that closely mimics the way our natural teeth look and feel. Before you lose hope, here are some questions to ask and options to consider:
How is your overall health influencing your mouth?
Many systemic conditions and medications may put a person at higher risk during surgery and also during the healing phase after dental implants have been placed. Board Certified (BC) Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons (OMFS) often collaborate with your primary care and specialist physicians to manage and optimize your health prior to the procedure. It is important to note that there are very few medical conditions that completely preclude a patient from obtaining dental implants. Once managed appropriately, candidacy for implants may be restored.
In what setting would the surgery take place?
Anesthesia is also an integral part of surgery. Many medications and health conditions will affect the type and safety of anesthesia, as well as increase risk for surgical problems such as bleeding and postoperative infections. While most BC-OMFS operate in an ambulatory surgery setting, they will also have the capability of conducting your surgery in a hospital setting, allowing safe surgery to take place for patients who would not otherwise be surgery candidates. (Did you know: Board Certified Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons are required to maintain hospital privileges. This ensures adherence to rigorous healthcare standards and enables them to manage more complex patient needs.)
Are your jaws injured or compromised?
If you have had past surgeries, trauma, or radiation to the areas around your mouth and jaws, it may be more complex to restore missing teeth with dental implants. A Board Certified Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon will be able to perform a detailed evaluation to determine which type of dental implants may be viable options for you. In some cases, other medical or surgical interventions may be recommended in order to improve your dental implant success. BC-OMFS will also be able to collaborate with other specialists so that you have the absolute best results possible, with prosthetic teeth that are not only beautiful, but functional and long-lasting.
What kind of provider did you see?
While there are many types of dentists that can and do place dental implants, a Board Certified Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon has special expertise that may make it possible for you to regain your confidence and your smile. BC-OMFS undergo specialized training in bone regeneration and are able to utilize remote anchorage sites, such as the zygomatic bones. Specialized knowledge and experience treating the entire facial skeleton make it possible for BC-OMFS to help many people with severe bone loss replace their teeth with dental implants.
Choose a Board Certified Oral Surgeon
Choosing a Board Certified and experienced OMFS provider ensures that you will receive treatment from a specialist who understands how to manage intricate cases. Dental implants constitute a significant investment, and choosing a specialist for your care ensures that you are afforded all available options, enabling you to make an informed decision regarding your health. Everyone deserves to live without dental pain, enjoy their favorite foods, and smile with confidence.