Osteoporosis And Dental Implants – Is It Possible?

Feb 29, 2024
woman wondering if she can have implants
If you have osteoporosis and are considering dental implants, you might be wondering whether treatment is possible. Can implants still be placed? Find out below.

If you’ve been diagnosed with osteoporosis you may be wondering whether you’re a good candidate for dental implants, or even if it’s at all possible. After all, osteoporosis affects bone quality and quality bone is vital in the successful placement of tooth implants. So, can implants work alongside this condition?

Let’s take a closer look…

The good news is that it is possible to undergo dental implant treatment if you have osteoporosis but you should be aware that the procedure may require different techniques and healing times. Let’s delve into exactly what this entails…

Osteoporosis and dental implants – Techniques For Better Placement   

When we consider that osteoporosis causes the bone to lose density, making the structure softer, it can lead to issues with tooth stability.  Osteoporosis also increases the risk of receding gums, periodontal disease and even, tooth loss. Therefore implant placement needs to be managed differently and typically involves varied techniques. These include:

Bone compression

Under normal circumstances, a hole is drilled into the jawbone and the implant is placed into it. However, in osteoporosis cases, an implant with an increased diameter is pressed directly into the bone. This greatly improves the functionality of the surface area of the implant and allows more bone to bond with it; but also, it causes the bone to compact, making for a more dense bone area to aid stability.

Bone densifying

Specialized undersized drills can also be used to compact the bone making it denser. In fact, there is significant evidence to suggest that undersized drills have proven advantageous in increasing initial implant stability. Thicker bone provides a greater platform for stability.

Connecting multiple teeth

In standard implant cases, a single dental implant would typically replace a missing tooth, on a one-for-one basis.  However, when dealing with adjacent missing teeth, particularly in osteoporotic cases, a one-for-one swap would further weaken the already depleted bone.

To counteract this problem clinicians may adopt a different approach whereby they use an implant bridge. This way, only one implant is placed and the remaining teeth are splinted together on either side of the implant to bridge the gap.

This works because by splinting teeth together, it’s possible to achieve up to nine times the strength of a single tooth alone. This not only increases the chances of stability but also the likelihood of long-term success. 

Bone grafting

Standard bone grafting techniques can also be used to augment the poor-quality bone at the implant site. Doing so allows for a more stable platform to anchor the implant into.

Zygomatic implants

This is not so much of a change of technique but more of a change of implant. In cases where the upper jaw requires rehabilitation, a zygomatic implant may be preferred. Rather than attach the implant directly into the affected jaw bone, ZIs are designed to attach directly into the zygomatic (cheek) bone.

Unlike the jawbone, the cheekbone is far denser so is less likely to be affected by significant damage caused by osteoporosis. Besides, the longer implant size (between 30 and 50 mm in length) allows for superior anchorage and is ideal for supporting missing replacement teeth at the upper back jaw.   

A word about bisphosphonates

Some patients with osteoporosis are prescribed drugs that help to build up bone density such as Boniva® or Fosamax®. These are known as bisphosphonates.  While these work to build up bone, it’s been reported that in rare cases, long-term use of these medicines can cause osteonecrosis of the jaw.

Osteonecrosis can prevent jawbone tissue from regenerating by inhibiting osteoclast activity (the cells that initiate bone remodelling).

Bone remodelling is an important part of the implant-to-bone fusion process that provides stability.

This is one reason why osteoporosis patients should tell their implant surgeon if they’re taking bone density-enhancing bisphosphonates.

Osteoporosis and dental implants – the key takeaway

As we’ve noted, dental implants could be an option for those with existing osteoporosis but the clinician would need to address each case separately. If you are given the green light, you will need strong bone attachment and this typically entails utilizing contrasting techniques, or implants like those listed above.

Another key point to bear in mind is that osteoporosis patients will typically need longer healing time before final crowns can be placed, so treatment timescales may be extended.

With this in mind, an experienced dentist will be able to give you a full evaluation, including treatment methods and timescales for completion.

If you reside in the Chesterfield, Missouri area and are considering dental implants as a tooth replacement option, come and talk to Dr Akinwande and her team at Chesterfield Dentistry. They will give you all the information you need to make a fully informed decision.

Schedule a free dental implant consultation, today!