Diabetes is a metabolic disease that affects the body’s ability to process glucose, or sugar. Normally the pancreas produces insulin, a hormone that helps the body move sugar out of the blood and into cells where it produces energy. Some diabetics fail to produce enough insulin to accomplish this task while others simply don’t use insulin effectively. The result is that high levels of sugar stay in the blood where it can cause problems, including vision loss, kidney disease and nerve damage. High blood sugar can also affect the teeth and gums, potentially leading to tooth loss. Dental implants can replace lost teeth, but are often more complicated to place in diabetic patients.
Potential Healing Complications
Unfortunately, people with diabetes often experience a reduced ability to fight infection. Many times this diminished infection-fighting ability is what causes gum disease, which in turn causes tooth loss. Implants mimic the anatomy and function of real teeth and so are often the best tooth replacement option. The placement of these implants requires minor surgery, however. The same diminished ability to fight infections that led to the tooth loss could also complicate post-surgical healing. Antibiotics are used to help reduce infection risk in all patients after surgery, but those with diabetic complications still experience higher postoperative infection rates than non-diabetic patients.
Risk of Implant Failure
Just as the risk of infection increases in patients with high blood sugar levels, so does the risk of implant failure. Diabetics whose blood sugar levels are not well-controlled tend to heal more slowly than other patients. In order for dental implants to function, they must fuse with the jawbone tissue in which they are inserted. A delay in healing can prevent this fusion from happening, resulting in an implant that is incapable of hosting a dental appliance. A poorly fused implant is, unfortunately, worthless to both patient and doctor.
Can a Diabetic Get Dental Implants?
In most cases, yes. Despite the potential challenges they may face, most people with both type 1 and type 2 diabetes can benefit from implants. Successful treatment does, however, demand adequate blood sugar control throughout the process. When preparing a patient for implant surgery, Dr. Hervas and the team at Implantation Dental Center will encourage them to work with their primary care physician and endocrinologist to keep their glucose levels under control. When provided with a full medical history, the prognosis is excellent – we will provide our patients with all the necessary information to achieve the best possible outcome from implant placement.