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Dental Implants and Bone: What You Need to Know

Dental implants are the tooth replacement option that is most like your natural teeth. In large part, that’s because your dental implant is anchored in the bone of your jaw, similar to natural teeth. Success with dental implants depends on your bone, so there are a few things you need to keep in mind about your bone when getting dental implants

The best way to understand your personal odds of success with dental implants is to talk to Boston implant dentist Dr. Ryan Clancy in person. We invite you to schedule an appointment at Divine Smiles, serving the Boston area from our location in Woburn. 

mature adult man smiling with teeth

Osteoporosis Is Linked to Early Implant Failure

Dental implants are highly successful. Overall, about 98% or more of dental implants are successful. About half of all dental implant failures occur because the implant doesn’t integrate with the bone (called osseointegration). In a recent study looking at over 4500 implants during the period of osseointegration, researchers found that only two factors seemed to impact the initial success rate: osteoporosis and gender

If you have osteoporosis, you might not have enough bone density for implants to integrate successfully. Another possibility is that osteoporosis medications could be the problem. Osteoporosis medications increase your bone density, but they can also change the character of the bone, which might make it harder for implants to integrate. Some other studies have linked osteoporosis medications to implant failure and other complications. It’s important to tell your Boston implant dentist if you’re taking osteoporosis medications 

Proper Nutrition Can Help Bone Healing

Your bones are a complex mix of minerals and organic compounds. Building healthy bones around your dental implants depends on your body having access to a wide variety of vitamins and minerals, including:

  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin B
  • Vitamin D
  • Vitamin K
  • Vitamin C
  • Calcium
  • Phosphorus

Vitamin A helps your body make bone-breaking cells (osteoclasts). This is critical because your body has to remove stressed bone around the implants to build new healthy bone that’s stable. Vitamin B compounds help your blood carry nutrients to your bones. Vitamin D helps your body use calcium effectively in your bones, and vitamin K is its less well-known partner. Vitamin C helps your body make bone-building cells (osteoblasts). Calcium and phosphorus are the two main mineral components in bone. 

Unfortunately, most people in Boston have low levels of almost all these nutrients. Vitamin D is especially low at this time of year before the weather gets warm enough for outdoor activities again. When you’re planning for dental implants, try adjusting your diet to add more of these nutrients or start taking a multivitamin. Maintain high nutrient intake through the entire implant healing process–six months after your procedure or more.

Some Common Medications Impact Bone Health

While nutrients can help your body heal bone, some medications can have the side effect of harming bone health after your dental implant procedure. We’ve already mentioned osteoporosis medications, but others can also cause problems, including antidepressants and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). 

Recent research highlights that some classes of antidepressants can make it hard for your bone to remain strong around dental implants. Multiple studies show that antidepressants are associated with implant failure. A good-sized study from 2020 showed that antidepressants were almost as bad for dental implant success as smoking. People taking antidepressants were more than four times more likely to experience implant failure, especially those taking tricyclic antidepressants (TCA) and serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRI). 

NSAIDs are common over-the-counter pain medications, including ibuprofen (Advil, etc.) and naproxen (Aleve, etc.). In the past, research showed they could increase your risk of implant failure because they affect bone healing. More recent research shows risk, but how serious it remains unclear.

Boston implant dentist Dr. Clancy will review your personal risk factors, including your medications, then talk to your doctor about whether dental implants might not be a good choice for you. 

Gum Disease Threatens Your Bones

Gum disease is the leading cause of tooth loss among adults in the US. It’s also the leading cause of dental implant loss after the first year. So, while dental implants can’t get cavities, it’s still important to clean your implants. Otherwise, you might develop gum disease around your implants, called peri-implantitis.

In gum disease, oral bacteria will colonize the space around your implants. Consuming sugars and secreting acid, they will destroy your bone, creating more space for more bacteria. This can make your implants loose and may lead to the loss of implants. 

Remember the study showing gender was a factor in early implant failure? That’s likely because men rarely brush or floss as often as women. In addition to cleaning your implants at home, it’s important to make regular dental visits. The hygienists at Divine Smiles know how to properly care for your implants and prevent the development of gum disease. In addition to your regular visits, you should monitor the health of your implants and schedule an appointment at our Boston dental office if your implants are painful, loose, or have red, inflamed gums around them. 

Implants Will Help Maintain Your Bones

Your bones support dental implants, and in return, your dental implants will stimulate the bones around them. This will help you avoid the type of bone loss that causes people with dentures to seem to age almost overnight. 

When you lose teeth, your body feels the bones that used to support those teeth aren’t needed anymore. It starts to reclaim nutrients from the bone, which causes it to shrink. Your teeth and jaws define the shape of your lower face. As the bone shrinks, your facial appearance will change. You will develop more wrinkles, a sunken appearance, and sagging skin like jowls or a turkey wattle (also called turkey neck). 

Dental implants interact with your bone, telling your body the bone is still needed. The body will maintain the bone, helping you look younger for longer. 

Get Dental Implants in Boston

Are you looking for a healthy, long-lasting, and attractive way to replace teeth? Dental implants are more like your natural teeth than any other approach. Boston implant dentist Dr. Ryan Clancy can help you plan a dental implant procedure to replace one, a few, or all of your teeth. 

Please call (781) 396-8558 or use our online form to request an appointment at Divine Smiles, located in Horn Pond Plaza, across from the Whole Foods. 

By Ryan M. Clancy, DMD, MAGD, LVIF, FPFA, FIAPA | April 5th, 2023 | Dental Implants

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