If you suffer from osteoporosis, you're not alone. More than 25 million Americans suffer from this condition and share your constant worry of fractures. If you're an osteoporosis patient who is missing one or more teeth, you may have heard that your condition makes dental implant surgery an impossibility. Though common, this statement is not true for every patient. In fact, osteoporosis may even make getting dental implants more important.

Dental Implants and Bone Loss

According to experts at the Academy of Osseointegration, many patients with osteoporosis can be successfully treated with implants. Placing a dental implant in an empty tooth socket decreases the risk that the bone that once supported the missing tooth will break down. If the tooth socket is left empty and the jaw bone breaks down, the surrounding teeth may become loose and fall out.  This is why it's important not to wait too long after losing a tooth to seek implant surgery. If you wait too long and bone loss begins, there may not be enough bone left to support the implant.

Success Rates in Osteoporosis Patients

To insert an implant in the jaw, your dentist will drill a hole in the jaw bone and then insert a titanium screw. For the implants to heal successfully, your jaw bone will have to integrate with the screw over a period of several months. This process occurs successfully in 98% of all implant patients. Osteoporosis lowers your chances of successful healing, but only by about 2%.

When Implants are Not an Option

In most cases, your dentist and physician will confer to determine whether or not you are a good candidate for dental implant surgery. Generally, osteoporosis alone will not keep you from being a candidate. However, you may not be able to have dental implant surgery if you are taking certain osteoporosis medications. Biophosphate medications, which prevent your body from reabsorbing bone tissue, slow the healing process. Your doctor and dentist may suggest alternatives to implants, such as a dental bridge, if you are taking biophosphates. This is especially likely if you are a smoker or a diabetic, since smoking and diabetes further impede healing.

If you are missing teeth, don't assume that osteoporosis will prevent you from having them replaced with implants. Every patient is different, and only your dentist and doctor can tell you whether you're likely to heal successfully from implant surgery. Keep in mind that the better you manage your osteoporosis, the better your chances of getting a green light for implants. Take your medications as directed and follow any fitness and diet recommendations your doctor has made. Many osteoporosis patients have undergone successful implant surgery, and if you take good care of yourself, the chances are high that you can, too.