Dental implants serve as missing tooth roots and can be used to replace one or more missing teeth. The process involves inserting prosthetic screws into the jawbone and allowing them to heal and fuse with the jawbone. Once they are tightly anchored into place, replacement teeth (either crowns or bridges) may be attached to the dental implants to take the place of missing teeth. In order for the process to work correctly, a patient must have enough healthy bone to support dental implants. Unfortunately, wearing dentures can cause bone loss over time. Failure to replace missing teeth in a timely manner can also cause the bone to wear away. So, what if you do not have enough healthy bone to support dental implants? Does this rule you out for the procedure altogether? Not necessarily.
In some cases where a patient does not have sufficient bone in the jaw to support dental implants or if the quality of bone in the jaw is not acceptable, bone grafting or bone augmentation can be used to prepare the jaw for the successful placement of dental implants. There are four different types of bone grafting procedures that can be used to prepare for dental implants including the following:
• Socket Preservation Graft – used immediately after a tooth is removed when a bone socket wall is thin and the likelihood of volumetric bone loss is high
• Block Cortical Bone Graft – restoration of the lost bone in the cases where the width and height of remaining bone are insufficient to place an implant in the proper position
• Sinus Lift Bone Graft – utilized to replace missing bone to allow for implant placement in the back of the mouth
• Guided Bone Regeneration – may be utilized when there is a localized defect in the bone or only slightly inadequate bone in the area of implant placement
Your implants dentist or oral surgeon can best determine which type or types of bone grafting procedures are needed to suit your particular situation. If you have been told in the past that you are not a candidate for dental implants due to insufficient bone in the jaw, you may want to get a second opinion. With today’s advances in dental technology and dental implants dentistry, many patients who were turned away in the past are now able to benefit from this innovative and life-changing tooth replacement system.