When a permanent tooth is lost, dental implants are the leading solution. Unfortunately, there are cases in which patients lose teeth as well as the underlying bone that supports their teeth. Some patents experience bone deterioration due to advanced gum disease, while others suffer bone loss after a tooth has been missing and not replaced. Regardless of how or why you lost bone structure in your jaw, you will have to address it before getting dental implants. Fortunately, bone grafting is a procedure that can bridge the gap for patients who want dental implants but don’t have enough existing bone to support them.
Bone Loss and Gum Disease
For some patients, bone loss may be the reason they lost a natural tooth (or teeth). This can be the case when there is advanced or untreated gum disease, called periodontitis. At this advanced stage of gum disease, the gums are not only infected and severely compromised, but the infection can also destroy the underlying bone. When enough bone is damaged, the teeth can lose their stability and fall out.
Dental implants can be used to replace your missing teeth after advanced gum disease. However, it is important that you receive periodontal treatment to restore the health of your gums first. You’ll also need to consider bone grafting to replace the loss of damaged bone that may have occurred due to periodontitis. Once your oral tissues are free of disease and your jaw bone is back to adequate height and density, you can take advantage of the gold standard solution of implant dentistry.
Bone Loss and Tooth Loss
For the majority of patients who have both tooth loss and bone loss, the bone was lost over time as a direct consequence of missing teeth. When a tooth is lost, there is no tooth root to stimulate the jaw bone. Just like other bones in the body, the jaw bone relies on frequent stimulation from chewing and biting to retain its density and form. If a tooth is not replaced in a timely manner, the bone will slowly resorb or atrophy.
Dental implants are the only way to prevent bone loss after missing teeth. However, you must have enough bone structure to successfully surround and support a dental implant when it is placed. Therefore, bone grafting is again the solution for patients who want dental implants but have bone loss due to waiting too long to replace their missing tooth or teeth.
Consequences of Untreated Bone Loss
When the height, density or structure of the jaw bone is compromised, there are many setbacks. Not only does this bone loss exclude you from getting dental implants without bone grafting, but there are also outward signs that indicate bone loss. Your jaw supports your teeth as well as the structure and frame of your face. Therefore, bone loss in the jaw commonly causes premature aging due to the hallowed or sunken appearance in the lower face. This can make you look much older than you really are.
While a broken bone can mend itself over time, bones can not replace themselves. After bone loss occurs in the jaw, it will be necessary to undergo bone grafting to rebuild missing bone. The good news is that modern dentistry offers some very effective options for bone grafting. In some cases, a section of bone can be taken from another area of your body and transplanted to the area of the jaw that needs rebuilding. Most patients, however, receive bone grafting using a special alloplastic material that is known for its hardness and acceptability by existing bone.
Once bone grafting has been performed, it is time to be patient. You’ll need to wait several months for the graft to create new, strong bone for supporting a dental implant. If you only need a minor bone graft, you may be able to receive your bone graft at the same time as your dental implant. Every patient is unique, but your implant dentist can tell you exactly what to expect when it comes to your bone grafting procedure.
Call Dr. Wayne Suway in Marietta
If you have missing teeth, dental implants can offer the most life-like solution. However, if you’ve been told your bone is too thin or soft to support a dental implant, don’t count yourself out. Call Dr. Wayne Suway to consult with an experienced implant dentist who performs bone grafting and other procedures to qualify patients for dental implants.