7 Reasons Not To Get Dental Implants and Its Suitable Treatment Alternatives
By Dr. Cheng Eng Wah on 23 December 2022
Dental implants are medical structures that resemble small screws. They are surgically placed into the jaw to replace missing teeth and act as anchors for dental crowns, dental bridges or dentures to stay in place.
You may be advised to get implants when you experience difficulty chewing, feel less confident or have a destructive bite because of missing teeth. Individuals feeling discomfort from dentures or dental bridges may be suitable candidates as well.
However, there are some age groups or the adoption of certain lifestyle habits that may cause one to not be suitable for implants.
In this article, we discuss 7 reasons why you should not get dental implants, who is actually suitable for them and some alternatives. We also answer your frequently asked questions (FAQs).
Age Groups That Should Not Get Dental Implants
While dental implants bring many benefits, there are some age groups of individuals who may not be suitable to get them. These include children and the elderly.
Note that within each age group, there may be exceptions and other alternatives available.
Children and Adolescents
The jaws of children and adolescents will continue to develop until a certain age — usually 16 to 17 years old for females and 18 to 19 years old for males.
During this time, inserting an implant is not ideal as it may interfere with normal growth of the jaw and prevent adult teeth from growing into their normal position.
Alternatives that may be recommended:
If your child loses their permanent teeth, some alternatives that may be recommended include placing a dental bridge or denture.
Alternatively, you can choose to wait until your child’s jaw has fully developed.
Seniors With Health Concerns
Elderly who have lost their teeth are excellent candidates for dental implants, particularly implant supported dentures. However, this age group of individuals are more likely to have health conditions that may delay and affect the healing process.
Additionally, as it involves a surgical procedure, it may pose a higher risk of complications. Implants are also made to last for decades, which is something that seniors may not necessarily need.
Alternatives that may be recommended:
A common alternative is to go for removable dentures. These are affordable and can last up to 3 to 5 years. While it’s required to clean and soak them daily, dentures don’t come with the risks associated with a surgery.
If an elderly individual is healthy with no pre-existing conditions and expresses strong interest in getting implants, a dentist may still recommend the procedure. This is evaluated on a case-by-case basis.
Do Not Get Dental Implants If You Have These Lifestyle Habits
There are certain lifestyle habits that may affect one’s suitability for dental implants due to their negative effect on the healing process. If you fall into any of these categories, do consult your dentist for alternative treatments.
You Neglect Your Oral Health
Individuals who have lost their teeth to decay or gum disease and have not demonstrated an ongoing commitment to improve their oral hygiene are unlikely to qualify for a dental implant procedure.
This is because proper oral hygiene is necessary to promote healing after an implant procedure.
You Are a Smoker
Individuals who smoke expose themselves to nicotine, carbon monoxide and hydrogen cyanide — all of which are chemicals found in tobacco. These impede the body’s ability to deliver blood to the jaw which affects the healing process.
In fact, a 2020 study by Windael et. al. found that dental implants in smokers experienced a 2.6 times higher risk of developing peri-implantitis* compared to non-smokers.
*Peri-implantitis refers to an inflammation in the connective tissues surrounding the dental implant, causing progressive bone loss.
You Grind and Clench Your Teeth
The actions of grinding and clenching your teeth is known as bruxism. This condition usually happens when you sleep or feel stress and is destructive to your teeth, jaw and gums.
Based on this 2022 study by Youssef et. al., bruxism is a risk factor for implant failure as it may damage the implant or cause it to become fractured or loose. If your dentist identifies signs of bruxism, you may be asked about it and your suitability for dental implants will be reviewed.
Other Reasons To Not Get Dental Implants
Other than age groups and lifestyle habits, there are some other reasons that you should not get implants. Similarly, these are due to the interference of proper post-procedure healing.
Some pre-existing health conditions such as cancer, diabetes, arthritis and autoimmune diseases can delay healing and impede the integration of the dental implant with the jaw bone.
If you are experiencing any medical conditions, you may not be a suitable candidate for dental implants. In such cases, you’re advised to consult your dentist for alternative solutions.
Jaw Bone Structure
A dental implant needs to be able to withstand the forces of chewing and thus, requires a strong jaw bone structure for support. If your bone structure is insufficient or not strong enough, you may not be a suitable candidate for implants.
This can, however, be solved with bone grafting — a procedure to transplant bone from another part of your body to repair and rebuild the jawbone.
Who Is Suitable For Dental Implants?
To determine if you are suitable for dental implants, you can ask yourself the following questions:
- Do you have gum disease?
- Do you have any pre-existing health conditions?
- Is your bone structure lacking or not strong enough?
- Do you have any bite complications?
- Are you on any long-term medication?
- Are you taking any medication that prevents blood clots (e.g. blood thinners)?
If your answers to the questions above are “no”, you are suitable for dental implants.
If you answered “yes” to some of the questions, it can delay your healing process but may not prevent you from getting a dental implant. For instance, individuals with insufficient jawbone may undergo bone grafting before getting implants. Similarly, those who have gum disease will be advised to get gum treatment before the procedure.
These situations are often evaluated on a case-by-case basis. If you think you need implants, contact your dentist today for a personalized consultation.
Alternatives to Dental Implants
Dental implants provide a myriad of benefits including restoring bite force, preventing bone loss, keeping adjacent teeth stable and lasting for a long time. However, they also come with their downsides and restrictions.
Here, we share 2 alternatives for individuals who may not be suitable candidates for implants.
A dental bridge refers to a combination of dental crowns and an artificial tooth to replace missing teeth. This requires strong, natural adjacent teeth for support.
The pro is that it does not require surgery which eliminates any risks of complications associated with dental implants. It is also less painful and more affordable.
The downside is that it can compromise protection as the enamel of adjacent teeth needs to be removed. Additionally, it lasts up to 10 – 15 years and may need to be replaced periodically.
Dentures are removable artificial teeth that act as replacements for missing natural teeth. They can come in full or partial sets, depending on what is required.
The benefits of dentures are that they’re removable, affordable and don’t require surgery like implants. But they may need to be replaced every 3 – 5 years.
FAQs about Getting Dental Implants
The dental implants procedure is done under local anesthesia. This means that the nerves in the jaw and gums will be numbed and you won’t be able to feel any pain. It’s normal to feel some pressure but there shouldn’t be any discomfort or pain.
Dental implants come in several types. Depending on your situation and needs, the dentist will recommend a suitable option for you. Here are the 4 different types:
- Single tooth implant
A single tooth implant is the most common option. It is done when the individual is missing one tooth without affecting the adjacent teeth.
- Implant supported bridge
Implant supported bridges are done for individuals with up to 6 missing teeth in a row. It involves using implants to anchor dental bridges and is typically more affordable.
- Implant supported denture
For individuals who are missing all of their teeth, implants are used to anchor dentures in place. This may be a preferred option for some as compared to removable dentures, as it doesn’t shift and is more comfortable for chewing.
- Metal-free dental implant
Individuals with thin and receding gums may prefer metal-free implants as they’re made of ceramic and are tooth-coloured, making them less visible.
In Singapore, the cost of dental implants can range from $1,500 to $6,000 depending on the complexity.
At i.Dental, the cost ranges from $3,780 – $7,020 per tooth (including GST) and includes the prosthesis (crown). The initial consultation is separately charged between $21.60 – $54 (including GST). Other items that may add on to the cost include diagnostic records such as X-ray scans.
To offset some of the costs, this procedure is claimable by MediSave for up to $1,250 per tooth.