Can You Get Dental Implants With Uncontrolled Diabetes?

To date, dental implants were contraindicated for people who did not have well-controlled diabetes. The conventional wisdom was that uncontrolled diabetes led to higher rates of implant failure because of the slow healing times and increased risk of infection associated with the condition. However, a newer study has found dental implants are as likely to be successful in people with uncontrolled diabetes as those with well-managed blood sugar levels. Here's more information about this development.

A New Study Involving Long-Term Outcomes

A study published in the Journal of the American Dental Association followed 117 patients who all had about 2 implants each installed. The patients were placed in three categories based on their A1C levels, with 20 of them listed as having poorly controlled diabetes (A1C levels over 8.1 percent). The doctors assessed the patients after a healing period that lasted four months and then at regular intervals in the year following the procedure.

At the end of the year, the doctors found there was no significant difference in the survival rate for implants in patients with controlled diabetes versus those with uncontrolled. These results could mean that people who were previously turned away by dentists for implants because of concerns regarding unregulated blood sugar levels may now be eligible for the procedure.

Why Controlling Diabetes is Still a Good Idea

Making an effort to get blood sugar levels under control prior to undergoing surgery for dental implants is still a good idea though. One reason is that healing times continue to be significantly increased in people with uncontrolled diabetes. The study found that it took an average of 7.3 months for the implant post to integrate with the bone in people with uncontrolled diabetes versus about 4 months for those in the other two groups (no diabetes and well-controlled).

While longer healing times didn't appear to affect the implant's survival rate, it can have a negative impact on other areas of your life. For instance, people with dental implants typically have to follow a restricted diet for a period of time while the implant post integrates with the bone. The longer a person has to follow this diet, the higher the risk the individual may not get all the vitamins and minerals needed to stay healthy. A restricted diet may also make it difficult to keep blood sugar at a healthy level.

Another issue is that people with uncontrolled diabetes are 3 to 4 times more likely to have gingivitis and periodontal disease, which other studies have shown can cause dental implants to fail after several years.

Still, dental implants can be extremely beneficial for diabetics, especially if the lack of teeth is interfering with their ability to manage the condition. If you have uncontrolled diabetes, speak to a dental implant specialist about whether or not this procedure is right for you.