In most cases where they are recommended by a doctor, the dental implant procedure is safe. But you may not be a candidate for a few reasons, including if you smoke.

Dental implants are permanent false teeth. A dentist may recommend dental implants for you if you’re missing teeth or need some of them to be removed and replaced.

A dental implant procedure is split up into multiple steps over several months. This is because the bone and tissue in your mouth need time to heal between each step.

Implants can last a lifetime and are considered safe for many people. However, there are some reasons why you may not be a candidate for dental implants and need to explore alternative options.

For many people, dental implants are very safe. Your dentist may recommend them if you are in good health.

In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) must approve dental implant systems. The organization follows international standards when evaluating and approving the materials used in dental implants. All materials in the implants must be deemed safe before they are approved.

The process of getting dental implants takes several months. It can be an invasive procedure that involves anesthesia, surgery, and recovery time. It can also be costly. These factors, along with others related to your health and age, can increase the risk of dental implants not working out for you.

Complications from dental implants include:

  • problems during surgery, such as damage to your other teeth, injury to the tissues or bone in your mouth or sinus cavity, or nerve damage
  • failure to set correctly, causing a loose implant that doesn’t function well (such as for chewing or when speaking)
  • infections
  • long healing time
  • tooth sensitivity
  • difficulty in cleaning the implant and teeth surrounding it

There are several reasons why you may not be an ideal candidate for getting a dental implant. Reasons include if you:

Are dental implants safe for older people?

If you are over age 60, you may want to consider the risks of dental implants.

According to a study in 2020, older people should consider:

  • slower healing time from a surgical procedure
  • other preexisting conditions that may be affected
  • compromised bone health from the procedure

You should discuss options with your doctor if you’re concerned about any of these risks prior to getting dental implants.

If you’re in good overall health, it’s very likely that your procedure will be successful.

A 2022 study found that 93% of implants survived 20 years after participants received tissue-level implants. The researchers noted that people who had gum disease and did not follow supportive gum care had a higher risk of complications and implant failure.

You may have a higher chance of having implant failure if you smoke. The 2020 study reported that smokers had an implant failure rate of 11% versus 5% for those who don’t smoke.

Another 2022 study found that people who smoke have a 140% higher risk of failure than those who don’t.

You may experience some pain and discomfort during and after the process, but it should not last for long. The procedure will involve general or local anesthesia. You may take pain medication to reduce discomfort in the days after the surgery.

Dental implant procedures take several months and the exact process will vary according to your needs.

  1. First, you may need to have teeth pulled or get a dental bone graft. This will depend on why you’re getting the implant.
  2. Your oral surgeon will put a post or multiple posts into your mouth that adhere to the jawbone underneath your gum line. This then takes several months to heal.
  3. You will return to your oral surgeon after several months and they will attach the false tooth or crown to the posts.

Learn more about dental implant procedures.

You may be a good candidate for dental implants if:

  • you’re in good overall health
  • you take care of your oral health and do not have gum disease
  • your jawbone can tolerate the implants

There are other treatments you may want to explore if you are not an ideal candidate for dental implants or choose not to undergo the procedure:

You may also decide to forego any replacements and leave spaces in your mouth if you are missing a tooth or teeth. Keep in mind that this could affect eating and speaking. Also, the gap in your mouth may affect other teeth eventually.

Dental implants are considered safe in many cases. Factors that affect how successful your dental implants are include your overall health, oral health, age, and lifestyle habits.

You may also want to consider the demands and cost of the procedure before moving forward. Some dental insurances cover some of the costs, while others do not.

There are several alternatives to dental implants if you decide to explore other options. Be sure to ask your dentist for information about your individual situation.