As an implant dentist here in La Jolla, San Diego, I make sure to keep up with all the scientific literature on dental implants. Dry reading? Absolutely. But, it’s my responsibility to you, so that I can provide you the safest and highest quality of service. It also serves to remind me of important topics of patient education. Such was the case when I perused research recently published in the Journal of Dental Research (you can find an overview here).
Always Provide Your Medical History to Your Dentist
According to a group of medical researchers, dental implant patients who use certain antidepressant drugs, known as Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) — common brand names include Celexa, Lexapro, and Prozac — are more likely to suffer from treatment failure. This happens when the implant fixture, which is the artificial tooth root that supports the permanent replacement tooth, fails to integrate with the jawbone. Rather than a 95–98 percent success rate, the rate may be closer to 90 percent for patients who use SSRIs.
If you’ve been prescribed antidepressants, what does this mean for you? You most certainly should not stop use of any prescribed medication without first consulting with your doctor. It means nothing more than the fact that you should always make sure to give an accurate medical history to your dentist. As a medical professional, just like your general practitioner, a dentist has to take a comprehensive look at your oral and overall health, and this includes factoring into your treatment how other health conditions can impact the success of restorative dental work.
If you take a medication that has been featured in research as a risk to the dental implants treatment, don’t worry. First, it’s important to remember that the research is limited and that scientists don’t know as much as some might believe — they certainly know a lot, but they explore areas that suffer from a dearth of information and data. Second, that something sends a red flag for higher risk during an experiment doesn’t mean that the same risk applies to you. Instead, this research helps us to design the treatment around you, so that you may benefit from the same success rates as others.
Why Does Your Medical History Matter?
What makes the dental implant such a successful, cutting edge treatment is the fact that it integrates with the jawbone. Whereas removable dentures and dental bridges are completely separate from your oral anatomy, dental implants become, very nearly, natural parts of your mouth. During the dental implant process, after the implant fixture has been attached, the implant will be assimilated into the jawbone via an organic and completely biological process of bone regeneration. Known as osseointegration, it involves the creation of new bone which permanently anchors the implant in place.
Certain medical conditions, or certain prescription medications, can affect the integration of the implant. For example, something that slows the circulation of blood may also slow the healing process. Other medications may alter the rate of bone growth, meaning that the anchoring process will take longer. Whatever the case may be, it’s very, very important that you fill your dentist in with your medical records.
By being aware of the various factors that can influence the dental implant process, we dentists can better shape the treatment around these factors. We may able to prescribe medication to counteract the relevant effects of a medical issue or of another prescription drug. Otherwise, and at the very least, we can offer our medical opinion as to what your best options are. That way you can make a dental choice that is best for you.
Schedule Your Consultation with Dr. Lockwood
Do you suffer from tooth loss? Are you unsure of whether dental implants are best for you? If you are missing one or more teeth, it is highly recommended that you seek treatment, as tooth loss is associated with various dental and overall health conditions that are better off avoided (see “Why Dental Implants?”). Contact us and schedule your no-obligation consultation with Dr. Lockwood so that he can offer you the information you need to make the right decision.
Our practice is open Monday through Wednesday, from 7:15 A.M. to 4 P.M., Thursday from 8:15 A.M. to 5:00 P.M., and on Friday from 8:15 to 2:00. We can be reached at 858-200-7248, or you may fill out the form on the top left-hand side of this page.