It's not uncommon to be told you need a bone graft before getting dental implants. A recent study in which 1512 implants were placed in the mouths of 792 patients, revealed that just over 50% of them required a bone graft procedure to improve the quality and abundance of bone in their jaws.
To achieve a successful implant procedure, dentists often recommend the bone grafting procedure to add volume and density to areas in the jaw where bone loss has occurred. The process involves opening the gums to expose the jawbone and adding bone material to it. Unfortunately, bone grafting can result in a lengthy healing procedure, adding both time and cost to the overall dental implant procedure. The good news is that advances in dental technology have paved the way for alternative options that offer equally successful results, and you’ll learn more about these as you read on. But first, let’s take a closer look at bone loss in the jaw and why it occurs.
Teeth are supported by a thick ridge of bone called the alveolar which helps to keep them embedded. The bone is kept healthy and dense due to stimulation received from chewing pressure. However, once a tooth is missing, it no longer receives stimulation in that area and begins to degrade. This process is also known as bone loss or bone resorption. Studies have shown that within three months of tooth loss or extraction, around two-thirds of the affected soft and hard tissues undergo some degree of resorption.
The most effective and common way to prevent bone loss is to have dental implants placed immediately following tooth extraction. Titanium implants are artificial tooth roots that fuse with the bone in a natural process called osseointegration. Once an implant has stabilized it can support a dental crown (or with several implants, a bridge or denture) and simultaneously stimulate the jawbone when chewing.
If, for whatever reason, you’re unable to have a dental implant placed immediately after extraction, dentists can fill the empty socket with bone grafting material to slow down the resorption process and preserve the bone.
Although in most cases, bone grafting may be the only bone loss solution for single dental implants, there are several alternatives available for those seeking full arch replacements. So, let’s dive in and take a look. Knowing a little bit more about them and talking to your dentist, may help you decide if they’re suited to your needs and preferences.
Mini dental implants
While regular dental implants are an effective solution for missing teeth, they’re not for everyone. As their name suggests, mini dental implants are smaller than regular implants, making them a great option for people who have suffered bone loss or have a small jaw or a narrow space to fill. Mini implants measure less than 3mm in diameter and consist of a one-piece screw with a ball-shaped end that protrudes from the jawbone to support a replacement tooth. Mini dental implants offer a less invasive procedure than regular implants because they’re placed over the surface of the gums rather than beneath the gums and can be performed under local anesthesia. Due to their petite structure, they are limited to the amount of force they can withstand and therefore have a shorter lifespan of between 6-9 years compared to regular implants that should last for 15 years or more with proper care. Mini implants are often used to stabilise dentures and may be more suited to senior patients that have lost teeth in the past, have suffered bone loss, and likely eat a softer diet than younger people.
All-on-4 dental implants
The All-on-4 technique is another alternative for patients looking to replace multiple missing teeth. This innovative method utilises between 4 and 6 strategically placed dental implants to support a full arch of replacement teeth. The technique maximises the available bone and avoids the need for bone grafting. The best thing about all-on-four dental implants is they can be placed on the same day your teeth are extracted, so you don’t have to worry about not having any teeth.
Zygomatic dental implants
Zygomatic dental implants are ideal for people with severe bone loss in the jaw. Not only are zygomatic implants longer than conventional implants but they are inserted into the zygoma (cheekbone) which will have excellent bone conditions even if a person has lost their teeth years ago, negating the need for a bone graft. Getting zygomatic dental implants is a same-day procedure, meaning the implants are placed and the prosthesis is attached in the same appointment so you can walk out of the clinic with a beautiful brand new smile.
The above techniques provide ideal solutions for those looking for same-day implant procedures without additional bone grafting or other major therapies. These solutions will put a smile on your face and improve your quality of life in many ways.
If you’re considering dental implants but feel hesitant about the bone graft procedure, why not consult with our dentist to explore these alternatives and discuss the best solution tailored to your needs? Call Chesterfield Dentistry at 314-936-3621 or use our online booking service.
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