There are a few factors that can render someone ineligible for dental implants. Some of these factors can be overcome, such as if a patient has an inadequate mass in their jaw bone to support the implant (which requires bone grafting). Other factors can be more difficult to overcome, such as heart disease, conditions that affect bone density (such as osteomalacia), radiation treatment for cancer, or certain autoimmune diseases. But can something seemingly as innocent as grinding your teeth prevent you from receiving a dental implant?
Teeth grinding (or bruxism, to use the official term) can destabilize an implant, leading to its failure. The constant, excessive, and unnatural pressure exerted on teeth when they're ground together can begin to affect the implant's connection with the underlying jawbone. Bruxism can be a hurdle for the safe placement of a dental implant, but it won't necessarily render you ineligible. It will be necessary to manage the condition before your dentist feels that you're a candidate for an implant.
The cause of your bruxism must be identified. In some cases, the implant may correct the problem. A missing tooth (or one that's severely decayed and will be removed in favor of an implant) can change the set of your jaw—a condition known as dental malocclusion. The connection between opposing teeth has been altered by the problematic tooth, leading to inadvertent grinding as your jaw muscles attempt to compensate. In this case, ongoing bruxism is unlikely to affect the long-term success of your implant. There may also be another, unrelated deteriorated tooth in your mouth that requires a restoration to correct your malocclusion.
Bruxism doesn't always have an obvious dental cause. It can be a type of dysfunction during your sleep, leading to overnight teeth grinding. It can also be a response to stress, or a side effect of certain medications. Your dentist may encourage you to address any stress which may be a causative factor, and it might be necessary for your physician to substitute any medication with a replacement that doesn't trigger teeth grinding. Whatever the cause, your dentist must be satisfied that bruxism won't be an element that may affect your new implant.
When installing an implant in a patient with bruxism, extra diligence can be necessary. You may require additional checkups to ensure that the implant is properly integrating with the underlying bone. Your dentist will also advise you to be vigilant in spotting any signs that grinding may be affecting your implant (pain, general discomfort, swelling). They're likely to provide you with a nightguard, which is a lightweight retainer to be worn while you sleep. This creates a physical barrier over your dental arch, preventing direct contact with the opposing dental arch.
A patient with bruxism who needs a dental implant should contact a dentist to learn more. They can explain your options and whether dental implants can help.