Can You Get Dental Implants If You Have Gum Disease?

Dental implants are widely considered the best option for replacing missing teeth. They extend deep into the jaw bone like a natural tooth root, and they look completely natural once you are healed. However, since implants must be surgically implanted, not every person is a candidate for them. If you have gum disease, can you get dental implants? Should you? Here's a look.

Gum disease can pose a risk to implant patients.

Gum disease is an infection of the gums. The bacteria that cause gum disease could cause a surgical incision to heal more slowly, or they could even work their way down into the jaw bone after implant surgery, causing a major infection. For this reason, most dentists will not perform implant surgery on a patient with active gum disease. However, they will help guide you in treating the gum disease so that in a few months, your mouth is healthier and you're able to go through with the procedure.

Treating gum disease is often pretty simple.

If your gum disease is rather mild, your dentist will probably recommend changing up your dental hygiene routine in order to clear it up. You'll need to brush for a full two minutes two or three times per day, focusing especially on the gumline. Floss daily -- there are no good excuses not to! If you find flossing difficult or painful, your dentist can instead recommend a device that cleans between your teeth with a stream of water. Rinse with antiseptic mouthwash after each brushing session.

If better hygiene does not clear up your gum disease within a few weeks, your dentist may want to perform a procedure called root planing. This involves numbing your gums, and then using a special scraping tool to clean beneath them. This will help get rid of the nasty bacteria that are causing your gum disease, allowing your mouth to finally heal. In the worst of cases, you may be prescribed antibiotics to take for a week to 10 days.

Once your mouth is free from gum disease, your dentist should be able to schedule you for implant surgery. Keep in mind, however, that you will still need to keep up with good oral hygiene after surgery to keep gum disease from coming back. The implanted tooth may not be real, but your gums still will be -- and they require proper brushing and flossing for ongoing health.