Pablo Foncea, DMD
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How does the dentist evaluate a candidate for dental implants?

The success of a dental implant to a great extent depends on a proper evaluation to determine whether he or she is a good candidate for the treatment. Each patient’s oral condition is unique. Therefore, the dentist has to customize his treatment plan in accordance with the patient’s condition. A good dentist will evaluate all aspects before starting with the treatment.

In most cases, the first thing that the dentist will examine is the underlying support structure beneath the area that needs the implant. A digital radiographic exam is commonly used by dentists to determine the status of the underlying support structure that is going to hold the implant. In some cases, the dentist may also use cone beam technology in combination with the radiograph for more accurate evaluation. This technology enables the dentist to view the bone structure in a real 3D image of the patient’s mouth. With this examination, the dentist is able to look at the height and width of the bone to estimate the amount of bone structure available for the implant.

If sufficient bone structure is available, the dentist may proceed with the dental implant procedure in that region. However, there may be a situation where the bone has receded in the absence of a tooth for a long time, or the bone structure has been lost due to periodontal disease in the past. In such situations, the dentist has to carefully evaluate whether the patient is a good candidate for an implant. The dentist may choose to go ahead with a narrower implant, or may go for the option of bone grafting in order to create a sufficient support structure for the implant. These decisions should ideally be made in consultation with the patient so that the patient remains fully informed of his or her exact condition and the available alternatives for their tooth replacement.

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