Can I Have Dental Implants With Gum Disease? Well, Yes And No!

Feb 07, 2024
young woman displaying signs of gum disease
Without treatment gum disease can lead to missing teeth. Yet the solution to missing teeth – dental implants – can fail if they fall victim to that very condition. This leads people to ask, can I have dental implants with gum disease?

Can I get dental implants with gum disease? The answer is yes in most cases, but usually not until the condition is under control. Let us explain …

Gum disease and dental implants – a complicated relationship

The connection between dental implants and periodontal diseases is pretty complex, but don't worry – we're here to break it down for you!

If periodontitis (gum disease) isn't treated on time, it can lead to losing teeth and molars. Implants come to the rescue in such cases. However, the tricky part is that the same disease can reduce available bone and increase the risk of bacterial infections, potentially working against the success of the implant.

What causes gum disease?

When dental plaque isn't removed daily, it can solidify into tartar, and the accumulation of tartar can contribute to the development of gum disease. The removal of tartar requires a professional cleaning performed by a dentist or dental hygienist.

Numerous risk factors are associated with gum disease, with smoking being the most influential. Smoking not only increases the risk of gum disease but can also hinder the success of treatment. Other factors include hormonal fluctuations in girls and women, specific illnesses like diabetes or AIDS and their associated medications, as well as genetic predisposition.

47.2% of adults over the age of 30 have some form of gum disease with many of them unaware they have the condition. According to the NIH, gum disease is a silent disease, with many people unaware of the condition until their symptoms have advanced in severity.

Why is gum disease so serious?

Gum disease occurs when the soft gum tissue and bone around your teeth get infected. Gingivitis is the initial stage, cropping up when there's an accumulation of plaque (bacteria deposits) on the teeth. The most common sign of gingivitis is bleeding. Fortunately, at this stage, the condition can be treated and reversed because the bone that supports the teeth is still intact.

When left unaddressed, the plaque can extend below the gum line, progressing into a more serious form of gum disease known as periodontitis or periodontal disease.

With periodontitis, we're dealing with a more advanced phase of the disease that impacts not just the soft tissues (like the gums) surrounding the tooth but also the supporting bone. Periodontitis has the potential to result in tooth loss and can have broader health implications, particularly for individuals with diabetes or cardiovascular issues.

Hence, while it may be possible for patients to have dental implants with gum disease, certain factors need to be considered.


  1. Implants require healthy bones and gums

Before undergoing implant surgery, it's crucial to address any existing periodontal disease. If you've experienced periodontal issues in the past, leading to the weakening of your gum or jawbone tissue, you might require bone grafts and/or soft tissue grafts before proceeding with implants.

The bone supporting the implants needs to be sufficiently thick and wide to ensure a secure fusion of implant roots over the long term, withstanding the forces of chewing. Healthy gums are also essential, as they must surround the implant and lower crown. Continual issues with gum disease could erode the gums and underlying bone, emphasizing the importance of having healthy gums before opting for implants.

In cases where significant periodontal tissue has been lost, the option of soft tissue grafts exists to replace what's missing.

How does bone and gum graft surgery work?

The presence of gum disease or the prolonged absence of a tooth can lead to the deterioration and weakening of the bone tissue underneath the area where the natural tooth once resided. Over time, bone resorption occurs when the usual pressures exerted by "teeth in use" are no longer felt in that specific bone region.

When the existing bone structure is insufficient to support dental implants, the solution often involves rebuilding it through bone grafts. This entails using bone from a tissue donor bank or another part of the patient's body, typically the jaw, hip, or tibia.

While it may take several months for both the bone and gums to be fully prepared for a dental implant, patience far outweighs the risk of potential implant failure.

  1. Pre-implant Assessment

Once the mouth has fully healed, the dentist then conducts an assessment of the overall oral condition, with a specific focus on evaluating the density and quality of the bone intended for the implant. Modern 3D imaging technology enables us to create a 3D reconstruction of the maxilla, allowing for the safe and predictable placement of implants through virtual surgery.

  1. Ongoing care

After successfully managing the disease and implant placement, ongoing care and maintenance by the patient become imperative. While proper hygiene is fundamental for everyone in maintaining oral health, it’s even more important for patients with dental implants. Even though implant roots are artificial, plaque can collect on the crowns. If this is allowed to accumulate, it can escalate into peri-implantitis, a severe stage of gum disease that can cause gum inflammation and bone loss, resulting in the implant becoming loose and falling out.

Paying careful attention to brushing and flossing helps ensure the implants last a long time and stay healthy. Additionally, it is highly recommended that patients schedule regular dental visits, ideally every six months, to assess the overall health of the mouth, with a specific focus on monitoring the condition of the implants.

Still interested in dental implants?

So, now you know you can have dental implants with gum disease, why not schedule a free dental implant consultation with the experienced team at Chesterfield Dentistry? We can assess your suitability and prepare your mouth for implant treatment. Call us at 314 936 3621 or use our online booking system.