A Guide to Dental Implants and Gum Disease | Smile Stories

Can You Have Dental Implants If You Have Gum Disease?

can you have dental implants with gum disease

If you’re reading this blog, there’s a strong chance you have missing teeth and are considering dental implants. If you have previously been told or suspect you have gum disease, you might be wondering if you can have dental implants. A common misconception about gum disease is that it only causes damage to the gums. However, gum disease also causes damage to the bone and this is why it is not possible to have dental implants when you have active gum disease. 

But, the wonderful implant dentists here at Smile Stories do have some good news for you…. 

Gum disease can be effectively treated and it is only active gum disease that prevents you from having dental implants fitted. So you can understand why it’s essential to treat gum disease before having implants fitted, we will explain the dental implant process step by step.

Guide to Dental Implants

The first part of the dental implant process is to place a titanium screw into the jawbone where the missing tooth was positioned. The screw comes through the gum, and a temporary tooth will be fixed in place to allow your bone to grow around the screw. Generally, after around six to 12 weeks, you will return to have a small metal post called an abutment attached to the screw. A permanent porcelain crown that replaces the temporary tooth will then be fixed onto the abutment. 

Before having dental implants, it is important to know what causes gum disease, how it’s treated and what happens if you get gum disease after having implants fitted. 

Eight Common Causes of Gum Disease 

When you have previously suffered gum disease, you are at increased risk, so it’s essential to develop good oral hygiene and attend regular dental check-ups.

While oral hygiene is a major factor in the development of gum disease, you should also be aware of other risk factors that can increase the risk of gum disease, which include:

  • smoking
  • recreational drugs
  • obesity and poor diet
  • pregnancy
  • medications that cause a dry mouth
  • crooked and missing teeth
  • weakened immune system due to illness
  • cancer treatment.

How to Prevent Gum Disease

Preventing gum disease is better than treating it. There are a few steps you can take:

  • Brush and floss your teeth twice a day 
  • Use interdental brushes or floss to remove food and plaque between your teeth 
  • Attend regular hygienist appointments for professional cleaning
  • Give up smoking
  • Limit the amount of sugary food and drink you consume.

It is also important to let your dental team know your medical history and stop smoking before and after implant treatment. Dental implants are one of the best ways to replace lost teeth, but you need healthy gums and strong bones to place implants, and gum disease can cause teeth and dental implants to fall out. 

If you have active gum disease, you need to get it treated before dental implants are fitted to give them the best chance of succeeding. 

What Is Active Gum Disease?

Active gum disease is caused by bacteria present in plaque that covers our teeth. If you don’t effectively remove it with daily brushing and flossing, the bacteria leads to a destructive inflammatory process which causes damage to both the gums and jawbone. Initially, the gums become red and swollen, the gums may bleed and you might have bad breath. At this stage, it’s called gingivitis and it is both treatable and reversible.

What Is Periodontal Disease?

When gingivitis is left untreated, our immune system springs into action to eliminate the bacteria. This further inflammation of the gum causes tissue to pull away from the teeth, creating small pockets where bacteria get trapped. The acid produced by the bacteria can then access and attack the jawbone. Periodontal disease leads to bone and tissue loss and the structures that keep your teeth in place fail, so your teeth may start to get wobbly and are at risk of falling out. 

Dental Implant Problems

Dental implants need healthy foundations to be successful. This is because there has to be enough bone and gum to place the implant into, and it also needs to be healthy enough to grow and fuse sufficiently to the implanted material.

If bacteria are busy producing acid and our immune response is to destroy the bacteria, the resulting damage affects the gums and jawbone. The bone that needs to grow and combine with the implant will be destroyed, meaning that the dental implants won’t be able to fuse sufficiently with the bone and there is a high chance they will fail and fall out.

How to Treat Gum Disease 

The first stage of treating gingivitis is to remove any plaque above and below the gumline. Gingivitis is treatable and reversible and you can eradicate it by brushing and flossing your teeth twice a day and going for regular, thorough cleaning with a hygienist. 

Treatment for Periodontal Disease

Periodontal disease happens when gingivitis has progressed, this may be the reason for your loss of teeth. To prevent further damage to the gums and bone and tooth loss, you’ll need help from a professional team. Don’t feel embarrassed about seeking help; that’s what dentists are there for and leaving it will only make the problem worse. 

Treatment for periodontal disease at this stage includes frequent routine dental cleaning, scaling and root planing, flap and pocket reduction surgery or LANAP laser gum surgery. This is to remove plaque and tartar from above and below the gum line. The aim is to remove bacteria and clean the surfaces of the teeth and roots, so the gums have a nice smooth surface and can reattach to the teeth. 

Treatment for Advanced Gum Disease 

Advanced cases of gum disease may require bone or soft tissue grafts to replace bone or reinforce and fill in gaps caused by gum recession. Before this, you will need a number of sessions with the hygienist to clean your gums and teeth to make sure the grafts survive. It will usually take between three to nine months for your gums and bone grafts to heal before dental implants can be placed.

Preventing Gum Disease After Dental Implants

Once you have dental implants it is crucial to prevent gum disease. To give your implants the best chance of survival in the weeks immediately after surgery and for years to come, you need to have impeccable oral hygiene. Gum disease after dental implants will not only affect your remaining natural teeth it can also lead to a condition called peri-implantitis

Peri-implantitis is similar to gum disease, but it affects the gum and bone surrounding the implant. Without treatment, the implant is at risk of falling out. 

The expert dental team here at Smile Stories provide dental implants in Bournemouth. We can assess your gums, determine if you have gum disease and treat it as necessary. We aim to ensure you have long-lasting dental implants that you feel happy taking care of.


Dr Gareth Edwards BDS (Hons) MFDS RCPS (Glasg) is a dentist who qualified with honours. Based in the Poole and Bournemouth area, he has a keen interest in teeth straightening and aesthetic dentistry and is a certified Invisalign provider.

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