As a person with osteoporosis, the decrease in bone density can make it more difficult for dental implants to be a realistic option, should you need them in the future. There are factors you need to consider that can affect your current and future restorative needs.
Look At The Big Picture
Fortunately, osteoporosis in itself is not a deal breaker to having an implant. You, your doctor, and your dentist need to work together to have a clear and comprehensive picture of your overall health. If you are otherwise in good health, osteoporosis is less likely to have a drastic impact on your candidacy for restorative dental work. Having chronic medical conditions in addition to osteoporosis and the medications used to treatment them can have a cumulative effect on worsening your bone density and decreasing your ability to heal.
Decide Sooner Rather Than Later
With your dentist's approval, it might be best to start the implant process as soon as possible. Since many people who have lost numerous teeth are adamant about preserving their remaining teeth, even when it is unlikely to be successful long-term, the window of opportunity for a successful implant can narrow. You may fare better when you have an implant placed promptly after tooth removal. This may be partly attributed to less additional loss of bone before the implant is placed.
One of the many reasons dentists try to salvage teeth instead of doing an extraction is because, over time, there can be loss of bone where the tooth was removed. If you have osteoporosis, the effect of bone loss in the mandible and maxilla can be exacerbated. Once you start having significant problems with many teeth, you should begin considering your restoration options so you can make a decision quickly.
Address Your Medication History
Certain types of medications used in the treatment of osteoporosis can cause additional complications with dental implants. The commonly used medications are bisphosphonates, which are designed to increase bone density. Unfortunately, they can increase the risk of bone necrosis in some people, because the blood supply to their bones may die or not be sufficient to support the bone. If bone necrosis does occur and affects the mandible or maxilla, implants may no longer an option, or if an implant has been placed, it will likely fail.
Whether you are currently taking bisphosphonates or have a prior history with the medication can factor into whether implants are a reasonable option. There are effective strategies for people who are taking bisphosphonates that can reduce the likelihood of jaw bone necrosis and increase the likelihood of successful implants.
Factor In Your Current Bone Density
Your current bone density and how it has changed with treatment are also important for trying dental implants. Even with osteoporosis, whether there has been recent declines in your bone density or your bone density has been relatively stable for a while can help you and your dentist gauge the best approach. If your bone density has remained stable or has increased over the last few years, it might be a good time to attempt a dental implant.
Although much of the focus on dental implants and osteoporosis is placed on the long-term risk of implant failure, you must also take into consideration the short-term risks related to fragility of your bone. For some people with low bone density, their bone may not be strong enough to tolerate the procedure to place implant abutments. The procedure requires drilling through the bone and inserting a metal screw into the bone to support the implant. Without adequate bone density, your bone may be more likely to fracture during the procedure, which will increase healing time or prevent your dentist from finishing the procedure.
Making the decision to attempt a dental implant when you have osteoporosis is not easy and it is not possible to guarantee the success or failure of the procedure in advance. Working with both your doctor and dentist can give you the best chance of making the appropriate decision for your health and long-term restorative needs. For more information, contact a professional such as Joe Rosenberg, DDS.