In the medical field, contraindications are reasons — like certain habits, medications, symptoms, or conditions—that would make a particular treatment inadvisable. If you have arthritis, you may wonder if that would be a contraindication for a dental implant procedure. Ultimately, every scenario is different. Some patients with arthritis may be good candidates for implants, while others may not. Read on to learn more about how arthritis affects implants and how to improve your success rates.
Why Could Arthritis Be a Contraindication?
Arthritis is an autoimmune disease that attacks the synovial joints and disrupts the balance of bone deposition and bone resorption. In short, some people with arthritis may heal slowly after implant surgery. People with arthritis are more prone to gum disease, which can be detrimental to implant success. Also, some medications that help manage arthritis symptoms may decrease saliva flow, which can be an issue since saliva prevents plaque buildup around the implant body.
Despite all of these issues, the International Journal of Implant Dentistry says that after reviewing a number of autoimmune diseases, only Crohn's disease showed a significant effect on early implant failure. Arthritis, on the other hand, didn't seem to impact the survival of implants after many months and years. So again, it's worthwhile to talk with your dentist since every case is different.
What Can You Do to Improve Your Success Rates?
It's so important to brush and floss around an implant to keep the restoration clean and prevent plaque or inflammation. Unfortunately, some people with arthritis may lose some of their manual dexterity and proper brushing form may be painful. To improve your dexterity, you can:
- Use an electric toothbrush
- Use water picks and plastic flosser grips
- Look for toothbrush grips that are larger and slip-resistant
- Use a stool to sit at while brushing or use a counter for elbow support
Besides improving manual dexterity, you should talk with your dentist and doctor about your current medications. Some arthritis medications may cause dry mouth, but your doctor may recommend alternatives that may be better suited for implant healing.
What Can Your Dentist Do to Improve Your Success Rates?
Preoperative preparation is important for patients with arthritis. This means that your dentist will make sure your jawbone, gums, and teeth are healthy; if they aren't, you could undergo deep cleanings, scaling and root planning, and/or bone grafting. Your dentist may also use implants with biofilms that can improve integration between the implant and jaw bone.
As you can see, while arthritic patients face certain challenges, there are ways to improve surgical outcomes with implants.