Dental Implants

Dental implants and diabetes

What diabetics need to know before having dental implants

About diabetes

Diabetes is a state, which occurs when the body is unable to control blood sugar levels; there are two types of diabetes, type 1 and type 2. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease, which means that the body's immune system attacks itself, destroying the cells that normally produce insulin, the hormone that controls blood glucose levels. Type 2 diabetes is often linked to lifestyle factors and it occurs when a person has an inability to make enough insulin or the bodily cells do not respond to the insulin in the correct way. Type 2 diabetes is much more common than type 1 diabetes and rates in the Western world are increasing year on year in tandem with rising rates of obesity.

How is diabetes linked to oral health?

Diabetes is linked to oral health because it increases the risk of dental problems; people who have diabetes have a higher risk of decay and gum disease and they are advised to visit their dentist for regular check-ups. Diabetes also increases the risk of eye and foot problems.

Diabetes may be considered a problem for patients who are interested in having dental implant treatment because diabetics have a higher risk of infection after surgery and there is evidence (from animal studies) to suggest that the healing process is slower in patients with diabetes. After implant treatment, it is essential for the implant to integrate into the jaw bone tissue and bond with the bone to ensure that treatment is successful; if the healing period is slowed and the body's natural healing ability is compromised, the implant may not be successful.

Advice for diabetic patients

Dentists can treat diabetic patients with dental implants, but it is of paramount importance that the condition is under control. Patients should discuss their health conditions and medical history with their dentist during the consultation stage so that the dentist can decide upon the best course of action.

If diabetes is well-managed, the chance of successful implant treatment is high. In a study involving 34 diabetic patients, the rate of success was very high; a total of 277 dental implants were fitted with a survival rate of 94.3 per cent after the first stage, with a total of 214 successfully integrated implants. At the end of the second stage, only one of the implants had failed.

Additional considerations for diabetic patients who intend to have dental implant treatment include smoking and oral health status. Patients who smoke may be advised to quit before starting treatment, as smoking slows the body's healing process. Diabetes also increases the risk of cavities and gum disease, so patients will undergo thorough dental health checks before getting the green light for treatment. If a patient wants to have dental implants and they have existing health concerns, such as signs of gum disease, these will be treated as a priority before implant treatment begins.

After implant treatment, diabetic patients will be advised to see their dentist for regular check-ups to check the progress of the implant and monitor oral health.