Dental implants are a fantastic choice to replace missing teeth. They look completely natural and can effectively support a patient’s long-term oral health.
Unfortunately, people who’ve been dealing with missing teeth for a long time might not be good candidates for dental implants if they’ve suffered bone loss.
Here’s why you can’t get implants if your jaw bone mass is lost and what you can do to still replace your missing teeth.
Dental implants are artificial teeth designed to fully replace a missing natural tooth.
First, patients get a metal post inserted into their jawbone, which acts like the tooth’s root. After a 6-month healing period (known as osseointegration), the procedure is finished by attaching the abutment and dental crown.
For the procedure to work, you need a healthy amount of bone so the metal post can be properly inserted. Fixing the post is the foundation of the entire process, as it’s meant to bond with the surrounding bone to keep the abutment and crown in place.
Moreover, if bone mass was lost, then most likely this part of the bone isn’t healthy. This creates an issue with osseointegration, where the bone and surrounding tissue must heal around the metal post. If the bone isn’t healthy, osseointegration is unlikely.
For most patients, missing teeth are the reason they’ve lost bone mass. A tooth’s root helps stimulate the jaw bone every time you eat and apply pressure to your teeth.
This helps deliver blood and essential nutrients to the jaw bone. When a tooth is lost, that area no longer receives nutrients, and over time it shrinks.
Other causes of losing jaw bone mass may also include trauma, poor dental prosthetics like dentures, or certain medical conditions.
Patients can still get dental implants even if they’ve lost bone mass through certain additional surgeries.
Two potential solutions could be either a sinus lift (if you need an implant in the upper arch) or a bone graft. They both aim to restore jaw bone health and increase mass in areas that have shrunk.
These procedures come with additional healing times, so the dental implant timeline may be extended by as much as six additional months.
If sinus lifts or bone grafts aren’t the right choice, patients have other tooth replacement options available, such as dental bridges or partial dentures.
If you’re dealing with missing teeth and are wondering if dental implants are right for you, Eric Morrison, DDS, MAGD, can help you find out.
A short consultation later can reveal if you’re a good candidate for implants or help you access other ways to restore your smile.
Learn if dental implants are right for you by requesting a visit to Morrison Cosmetic Dentistry online or by calling (301) 637-0719.