Diabetes and Dental Implants: Are Subperiosteal Implants Better Than Bone Grafts?

Posted on: 5 June 2018

Replacing a missing tooth with a dental implant is often straightforward. Your dentist will insert a post into your bone and, once this post is embedded in place, will then add a false tooth to it. In some cases, however, this kind of implant technique won't work. For example, if you have suffered from some bone loss in the implant area, then you won't have enough bone to hold the post securely.

In this case, dentists may use bone grafts to build up the area until it is big enough to anchor the post or they may recommend a different type of implant technique (a subperiosteal implant) that works on a lower bone density. If you have diabetes, your dentist may favour the subperiosteal implant over a bone graft. Why?

Bone Grafts and Diabetes

There is some evidence that implant bone grafts have a higher failure rate in people who have diabetes.  The grafting process can be quite invasive, and your diabetes may affect your recovery time and increase the chance of infection which could lead to graft failure. On this basis, your dentist may prefer not to use grafts to build up your bone for an implant and may talk to you about using a subperiosteal implant instead.

What Is a Subperiosteal Implant?

Subperiosteal implants work pretty much like regular dental implants; however, their design means that they can be used on people who don't have good bone density levels without the need for bone grafts. Here, rather than putting an implant post into bone, your dentist will attach a metal frame on top of part of the bone in your jaw. Your gums will heal around the frame, leaving a post sticking out of the gum for the tooth to attach to.

If your dentist doesn't think that you are a good candidate for a graft because of your diabetes, then a subperiosteal implant may be a viable alternative. Plus, the success rate of implants in diabetics is close to the general success rate, which may give you a better chance of getting the implant you want to replace your missing tooth.

If you are having a dental implant put in, it's important to talk to your dentist about any problems that your diabetes may cause. You're less likely to have complications during treatment if your diabetes is under control and you follow any additional advice on caring for your gums and teeth during the implant process.