While dental implants have been in use for a few decades now, there still hasn't been any large scale and conclusive testing to determine how lupus interacts with these dental prostheses. However, using what is known about lupus complications and treatments can help you and your dentist decide if implants will work for you. Watch out for these potential issues that could arise depending on the type and severity of your lupus.
Since all of the various forms of lupus cause serious inflammation due to the body's immune system reacting inappropriately to harmless triggers, it's naturally difficult for patients to recover after surgery regardless of the specific procedure. Patients who are concerned about their reduced healing response should work with their dentist to use minimal cutting techniques like flapless implant insertion. Leaving the gum tissue and jaw bone as intact as possible reduces the chances of serious complications during recovery due to slow healing. Protective caps can also be left on for longer after the implantation surgery to prevent the use of sutures that further aggravate the body's immune system response when lupus is involved.
Steroids are the best way to keep the body's inflammation under control during a severe lupus attack, but these medications also interfere with the body's healing response and cause osteoporosis after long-term use. You'll need to have your lupus controlled and get off of steroidal drugs before your dental implant surgery or you'll have a high risk of implant rejection.
The bone density loss caused by steroid use also makes it harder to get dental implants in two different ways. First, density loss usually affects the jaw bone tissue as well, making it hard to find a place to anchor the implant. On top of that, the drugs used to treat medication-induced osteoporosis also have a chance to further weaken and destroy the bone tissue in the jaw. You'll need to complete any bone strengthening treatments and have your dentist verify you're not experiencing jaw osteonecrosis as a side effect before starting your implant surgeries.
Finally, don't forget that your immune suppressing maintenance medications can make it easier for an infection to complicate any surgery, including dental implant insertion. Your dentist can plan a medication regimen for your recovery period that combines antibiotics and anti-inflammatory drugs so you heal as quickly and safely as possible. Infection is one of the primary causes of implant failure, so you'll need to do a little more than just clean your mouth daily to prevent lupus-related complications.
For more information on dental implants, contact a dentist like Joe Rosenberg, DDS.