Are you one of the 26 million Americans who suffer from diabetes? You may be wondering if dental implants are right for you. The answer is clearly yes — if your diabetes is well under control. In fact, dental implants may be the best choice for controlled diabetics with clear advantages over denture alternatives. Here’s why.
How Diabetes Affects the Body & the Healing Process
As the disease progresses, diabetes can interfere with numerous body processes, especially wound healing, which can make dental implants challenging. Diabetes is a condition that affects how the body regulates glucose — a basic sugar derived through the digestion process that’s a source of energy and body function. The body must maintain proper glucose levels in a certain range: too low or too high can impede body function. The body regulates glucose levels through insulin, which is produced by the pancreas to regulate glucose levels.
There are two types of diabetes that interfere with the body’s production of glucose:
- Type I Diabetes: The body stops producing insulin, so the patient must obtain insulin through daily injections. This type of diabetes is more difficult to control.
- Type II Diabetes: The body doesn’t produce enough insulin or does not respond adequately to insulin that is present. This is the most common type of diabetes.
Dental implants need time to integrate into the bone to naturally become part of the body and achieve a strong hold. Since diabetes can affect how your body heals from a wound, it can slow the dental implant integration process.
How Controlled is Your Diabetes?
This problem varies depending on how controlled the diabetes is. If you effectively manage your diabetes with proper exercise, diet, and consistent insulin injections, you’ll have fewer problems with the healing process.
Fortunately, recent advancements in oral surgery techniques have increased the chances of a good prognosis for those with diabetes, even those with less controlled cases.
People with less controlled diabetes will require more time and assistance with the healing process.
On average, diabetics have nearly as much success with dental implants as 95% of the general population, so the odds are in your favor, depending on the unique aspects of your diabetes condition — your exercise, diet, and health regimen.
Are You Healthy?
We’re often asked: “Am I too old for dental implants?” The short answer is it is less about age than it is about health. Talk with your oral surgeon about any existing health problems, including:
- Periodontal Disease
- Low Bone Density (Bone grafting may be a safer alternative in this case.
- Smoking (This can affect your mouth’s ability to heal, which coupled with diabetes could prove problematic. You may have to quit smoking permanently or at least for a few months during the procedure. Consider this an excellent opportunity to quit.)
- History of oral cancer or if you’ve taken bisphosphate medications in the past
Can You Follow the Treatment Plan?
Here you must be honest with yourself. The post implant period requires special care to allow healing to take place. This can prove difficult for some to follow through on. You will need to be very careful about what you eat and put in your mouth. This requires a special diet and care regimen you’ll need to follow through on.
The Good News? Dental Implants Encourage a Healthy Diet
The benefits of dental implants are they make it easier to follow through on a healthy diet. You’ll have the teeth and the chewing power to eat the right types of food — crisp vegetables and fruit that tend to require a great deal of grinding. Since implants are surgically attached to your jaw bone like natural teeth, you’ll be able to eat these foods easier than you would with a denture alternative. Therefore, eating a healthy diet to manage your diabetes becomes much easier.
Talk to your doctor, dentist and oral surgeon about whether or not dental implants would be a good approach for you.