Many people do not know their jawbones may lose bone mass over time. Bone loss can occur as the result of osteoporosis, tooth loss, periodontal disease or other causes Regardless of the cause, bone loss in the jaw can impact dental implant success.
Implant patients with jawbone loss typically undergo a bone grafting procedure several months before their implants are placed. Bone grafting improves the chances for osseointegration to occur, as the bone heals around the implant “root.” Once the bone graft is healed, the dental implant can be installed.
Sometimes a patient may not be suitable for a bone graft. They often ask whether there are alternatives to bone grafting, or if they’ll have to rely on dentures. Fortunately, there are several options when bone grafts are not recommended.
What is a bone graft?
A bone graft adds bone material to the jaw in an effort to strengthen the existing bone. This creates a dense, thick base for dental implants to take hold. When a bone graft has been performed, the patient can resume normal eating, drinking and daily activities within days. Implants, however, cannot be placed for several months because the bone graft must first heal sufficiently,
Who is not a good candidate for bone grafting?
Certain conditions make it difficult for the body to heal and accept a bone graft. Osteoporosis, particularly when unmanaged, increases the chances of bone graft failure. Patients with diabetes, hypertension, have undergone radiation therapy, or who use alcohol excessively are often not good candidates for bone grafting. Smoking and age also increase the risk of failure.
Finally, the lower jawbone is usually thicker and denser than the upper jawbone. You may experience more bone loss in your upper jaw, whereas your lower jaw could support a graft even with some bone loss. The only way to know for sure is to schedule a consultation with Dr. Mike at the Cleveland Implant Institute.
Are there alternatives to bone grafting?
There’s no need to worry you’ll be stuck with dentures forever. When a patient’s jaw or overall health cannot support a bone graft, there are often other options available.
First, you may be eligible for a full arch prosthesis, which can replace an entire row of teeth with just four to six anchors. If your jaw is dense and thick enough to support those anchor points, this is a great solution to permanently replace multiple teeth at once.
When your upper jawbone loss is too advanced to support bone grafts, Dr. Mike specializes in zygomatic implants. These dental implants use extra long “roots.” Instead of vertically installing the implant, these anchors are angled into the cheekbone (the zygoma). This standard implant alternative can replace multiple teeth in one procedure, and is suitable for people who have suffered severe bone loss. Zygomatic implants function just like regular dental implants: they’re permanent and look natural. You’ll be able to eat, drink and talk normally.
While not every patient is a good candidate for dental implants, the majority are. To find out more about your dental implant options, schedule an appointment at the Cleveland Implant Institute today.