Life without a full set of teeth is not your ideal picture of existence. Not only does it leave you feeling less confident about the appearance of your teeth, but it also makes the simple task of chewing food a challenging chore. There’s a remedy, though: the placement of dental implants. Considered the gold standard for tooth replacement, this process requires patients to have an adequate amount of existing jawbone. If you fall short in this area, is it still possible for you to receive dental implants? Read on for the answer!
How the Dental Implant Process Works
A cylinder-shaped titanium rod, a dental implant mimics the function of the original tooth root. After the implant dentist makes an incision into the gums and drills a small hole into the jawbone, the implant is attached to the same. Over the next few months, the implant will fuse with the bone through a process called osseointegration, which solidifies its position. For the implant to seat properly, though, there must be sufficient bone mass.
What if You’ve Suffered Bone Loss?
Whenever there is prolonged tooth loss, one of the adverse effects can be jawbone degeneration. That’s because the tension that each tooth root creates at the jawbone level helps to trigger the growth of new bone cells. Thus, ignoring tooth loss for too long can hinder your chances of qualifying for a dental implant.
Before the surgery can commence, then, your dentist will need to perform a procedure to restore enough jawbone to support implant insertion. Here are some of the available options:
- Bone Grafting – Bone is taken from other parts of your body (usually the chin or hip) and used to restore the jawbone. Another option is to use artificial materials to substitute for the missing bone mass.
- Sinus Lift – This involves the dentist lifting the jawbone by adding bone mass to the maxillary sinus, the area above the back teeth on either side of the nose.
- Ridge Expansion – This is a type of bone graft that may be performed when the jaw isn’t wide enough for implant insertion.
- Distraction Osteogenesis – Another type of bone graft that can be performed is to separate (distraction) two pieces of bone and to then form new bone (osteogenesis). This normally is done to make the jawbone taller to allow more room for the implant to be properly embedded.
It Starts with a Visit
Now that you’re aware of the possibility of still receiving a dental implant even if you’ve suffered jawbone loss, the logical step to take is to contact your local implant dentist to schedule an initial visit. While you’re there, a thorough examination can be performed to determine exactly what will work best for you. Therefore, you can be sure to receive the top-notch care you need to replace your missing teeth!
About the Author
Dr. Robert Smith earned his dental degree from Emory University. Through the course of an over 35-year career, he hasn’t wavered in his commitment to excellence. Thus, Dr. Smith has taken countless hours of advanced continuing education, which includes training from the esteemed L.D. Pankey Institute, the Dawson Academy and the Misch International Implant Institution. He restores smiles and lives to normal by placing dental implants at Island City Dental, and he can be reached for more information through his website.