Have you given up on getting dental implants because of bone loss in your jaw? We can assure you that all hope is not lost. Several options exist for patients who have experienced bone loss in their jaw due to missing teeth or gum disease.
The Causes of Jaw Bone Loss
In order to properly place and secure a dental implant, there needs to be sufficient bone structure beneath the missing tooth. This is because implants are anchored into the jaw with a metal fixture that looks like a small screw. In order for the screw to be inserted, there needs to be enough bone to hold it in place, and the bone must be strong enough for the implant to remain secure.
Missing teeth can be a cause of bone loss in the jaw. When our teeth are intact, the root of the tooth, as well as the use of the teeth to chew, stimulates the jaw bone. The body reacts by preserving the bone, sending nutrients, and maintaining the tissue.
When teeth are lost (or even occasionally when teeth are misaligned), so is that stimulation. The body fails to recognize the need for this maintenance, and the bone tissue begins to atrophy. This can be a negative cycle, as the weakened bone structure can cause nearby teeth to become loose and eventually be lost. Dentures and bridges address the missing teeth but do not alleviate these concerns as well as implants, as they do not reach into the jaw and stimulate the bone.
Gum disease is caused by a bacterial infection in the gum tissue that surrounds the jaw bone. If this becomes severe enough, the bacteria can attack the bone and wear away that tissue as well. Gum disease can have a long list of negative health consequences, so if you think you may have gingivitis or more severe gum disease, seek treatment right away.
Implants with Bone Loss
Bone loss may make it more difficult to place implants, but that does not necessarily mean it is impossible. Modern dentistry has come a long way, and implants are often possible for many patients, even with bone loss.
A bone graft is a dental procedure that takes donor bone tissue (either from your own bone or a human or animal donor) and affixes it to the treatment area. This bone alone does not replace your lost bone but acts as a support for your body to heal and create its own stronger bone tissue.
This process takes some time. If you are a candidate for this procedure, once it is completed, your body will need time to heal and generate stronger bone over the course of several months before an implant can be placed. The good news is that bone grafts have a very high success rate and can be an excellent option for those seeking dental implants.
Zygomatic implants are another option for replacing the upper teeth. Instead of anchoring to the jaw itself, these implants are anchored further into the cheekbone. This bone is denser and more sturdy and is not impacted by some of the causes of loss of structure in the jaw, such as periodontal disease or tooth loss.
One additional benefit of Zygomatic implants is that they can be placed in one procedure without the additional healing time and multiple procedures necessary with traditional implants and bone grafts.
Are You a Candidate?
You may be a candidate for one of these options, even if you have significant bone loss. Schedule a consultation today to discuss what dental implant, or other tooth replacement, options may be available to you.