Can Genetics Determine the Success of Dental Implants?

As the big debate of nature versus nurture continues, one thing is clear, there is no fighting genetics when it comes to dental health. Studies have shown that even those who have amazing oral hygiene habits, 30 percent of the population has a genetic predisposition for developing gum disease. Recently research was released that one’s DNA coding may also influence the success (or lack of) in regards to dental implants.

Tooth loss can happen to anyone at anytime, regardless of if it is triggered by dental problems or a blow to a face. While young children can expect a second chance (thanks to the shedding of baby teeth and the eventual growth of permanent teeth) adults who lose a tooth must pay for professional dental care to fill the void left behind. Repairing missing teeth is a necessity in adults as if left alone the void can contribute to greater health issues including increased levels of dental plaque, tooth decay, communication issues and flat out embarrassment. Dental implants are just one option for restorative dental care, but researchers have found that specific gene combination may indicate a negative response to dental implants.

Dental Implants, In the Genes

An article published in the Journal of Oral Implantology indicated that patients with the gene combination of interleukin (IL)-1 allele 2 at IL-1A(-889) and IL-1B(+3954) are vulnerable to the natural disintegration of periodontal tissue ( In order for a dental implant to successfully stay intact for a lifetime, healthy gum tissue is a must.

The article authors analyzed two groups of patients and all study participants had one or more dental implants as tooth replacements. The groups (comprised of 25 members each) were created by the following criteria; group A had peri-implantitis (“destructive inflammatory process affecting the soft and hard tissues surrounding dental implants,” Mombelli, A. “Microbiology and antimicrobial therapy of peri-implantitis,” Periodontology 2000 2002;28:177-189) and group B members sporting healthy gums. Seventeen group A members tested positive for the genotype, while five B members also had the marking (meaning that their dental implants may be at risk in the future).

About Dental Implants

Dental braces, dentures and dental bridges are all options for fixing missing teeth, but typically, dentists prefer dental implants to other options because once affixed, they can become a permanent part of a smile. According to Dr. Ron Ingle, the dental director for Washington Dental Service (and an insurance executive), “For a single tooth replacement, over the long run we think it’s more beneficial to get the implant” (New York Times).

Dental implants are a type of fake tooth, that becomes permanently affixed courtesy of oral surgery. The process can take up to a year and will only be successful in those with good oral health. The process begins with a tiny by tough titanium rod being implanted into a jawbone. It is this device that will replace the root structure. A temporary tooth will be used until the gum tissue and the surgical area properly heal. Once the healing process is complete and the fake tooth is hand constructed to look natural, a dentist will attach the permanent structure.

Ultimately, unhealthy mouths will not be able to handle the stress associated with the apparatus as both a substantial jawbone and healthy gums are essential to the healing process. Dentists will not even bother suggesting dental implants for patients that show indicators of dental implant failure, and over time the gene testing may be one criteria used to determine a tooth replacement strategy.

Dental Implants Expenses

Despite dentists and a majority of patients favoring dental implants over other types of tooth repair, the expense is not adequately covered by dental insurance. Insurance companies tend to categorize all types of tooth replacement as cosmetic dentistry, a type of dentistry never paid for by insurance. Additionally, some insurance providers simply reject the claims for dental implants as they may categorize the main cause for the devices as pre-existing condition, eliminating their legal obligation to make good on the debt. Consumers in need of a dental implant can expect out-of-pocket expenses of about $3,000 to $4,500 per dental implant or a large expense ranging from $20,000 to $45,000 for a full set of teeth (New York Times).

Individuals who may be in need of dental implants can implement a number of strategies now to lower dental bills and save money. Patients needing to pay for these types of expenses should spend the extra time to find a dentist who may be willing to provide in-office financing or even a dental discount. Consumers in need of finding a financially friendly dental care provider can call WH Family Dental to find a dentist close to home.