Q&A: Can You Get Implants With Periodontal Disease?

Periodontal disease, the advanced form of gingivitis, results in chronically inflamed gums, a receding gum line, and occasionally bone loss or bacterial infections. This can lead to lost teeth and gaps in your smile. Combating periodontal disease and replacing your teeth with dental implants improves both your health and confidence, but there are somethings you need to know about treating periodontal disease with teeth implants.

Q: Can dental implants be used to replace all my teeth?

A: The ease of implant placement depends on the extent of the damage caused by your periodontal disease. Infections that get into the bone can lead to bone loss. Then, further bone loss can occur if the tooth is lost. Up to 25 percent of the bone within one year of losing a tooth, and then further loss occurs each year. Generally, placing an implant stops the bone loss, because the implant will stimulate the bone to regrow. If extensive bone loss has already occurred, you may first need a bone graft before an implant can be placed.

Q: When during treatment should I consider implants?

A: Generally, implants are considered only after the periodontal disease is treated. For most cases, this requires a deep periodontal cleaning where all tartar and calculus is removed both above and beneath the gum line on every single tooth. After the cleaning, which may take several sessions, your dentist will fill any cavities and monitor your remaining teeth and gums as they return to health. Implants can usually be installed promptly after the cleaning if all goes well and there are no remaining pockets of infection.

Q: Are implants immune to future bouts with periodontal disease?

A: No. Once you have periodontal disease you must always practice careful dental hygiene to prevent its return. Implants, just like your real teeth, can build up calculus and trap bacteria beneath the gum line. This in turn can lead to periodontal infections in the bone and the bone loss this often brings. Extensive bone loss beneath an implant can cause it to loosen, necessitating its removal just as if it were a real tooth.

Q: How can I prevent this from affecting my implants?

A: The answer is simple and it is the same whether you are talking about your teeth implants or your natural teeth – proper hygiene. Brush and floss carefully at least twice a day. The goal is to remove any plaque near the gum line as you brush, not to just clean your teeth. To achieve this, hold the brush at a 45 degree angle as you brush so the bristles can whisk out any buildup just beneath the gum line. Make sure to brush both the front and back of your teeth. Your dentist will also likely recommend a soft-bristled brush, since vigorous brushing with a harder brush can also cause gums to recede. Flossing is also a must to ensure that plaque doesn't buildup between teeth.

Finally, have your teeth cleaned regularly by a hygienist. Even your implant teeth need regular cleanings to prevent plaque and calculus buildup. Generally, cleanings are recommended every six months.