The jaw bone is very important for dental implants. In fact, just as a foundation is important to a house so jaw bone is important to dental implants.
For any dental implant procedure to be successful there must be sufficient bone to integrate with the implant and to give it support. And if the patient suffers significant bone loss, this could greatly affect his/her implant placement.
Before you conclude whether you have sufficient bone density to give support to dental implants, you would need to know exactly what constitutes a loss of bone.
What Is Loss of Bone And How Is It Diagnosed?
Loss of bone, known as osteoporosis, is a medical condition where the bones are very fragile and are more prone to be damaged. When there is a significant bone loss in the jawbone, this can affect the performance of dental implants negatively.
Conducting a bone density test is the major way of determining whether you have implant bone loss and if it would affect fitting a dental implant. Bone density test involves the use of X-rays to measure the mass of calcium and other bone minerals available in the jaw bone. For example, X-rays can be used to diagnose osteoporosis.
Likely Causes of Loss of Bone
Loss of bone may be caused by several things, which include the following: dental infection; cavities; gum disease; injury to a tooth, gum, or jawbone; loss of a tooth, which may cause a gradual shrinking of the bone in that area; developmental defect, etc.
If you have experienced any of the issues above, it is advisable that you should visit your dentist to schedule a dental checkup.
How to Prevent Bone Loss?
Keeping a good oral hygiene, such as regular brushing and flossing can help in preventing bone loss. More so, a regular visit to your dentist can also work. Other bone loss preventative measures include taking probiotics, getting enough calcium, and eating a healthy diet. Note that smoking is generally bad for your bone growth and overall mouth health. In short, following a good dental hygiene, eating a healthy diet, and frequent visit to your dentist would help in preventing bone loss.
Can You Get Dental Implants with Bone Loss in Your Jaw?
Since having a strong jawbone is very important and prerequisite to getting a dental implant, what happens when you have a bone loss but need to undergo dental implant surgery?
To properly fit the dental implant in place and to give it support, the dentist needs enough jaw bone to screw in the abutment. What makes the dental implants last-long and durable is the bone foundation. During the osseointegration period, the abutment part of the dental implants actually bonds with the jaw bone.
But in case you have bone loss, there are ways to go around this so that getting a dental implant would be possible. This process makes it possible for you to get a dental implant for your tooth loss even if you have experienced significant bone loss or have low bone density.
Fixing Bone Loss for a Dental Implant
In case of a sufficient bone loss, there are several ways that your dentist can take to fix your jaw bone loss in preparation for a dental implant after. These include:
Your dentist can carry out bone grafting on you to replace the lost bone. This is when the dentist takes bone from other parts of your body and places it in the jaw where the dental implants will go. Your dentist may also do a bone graft with synthetic bone.
Note that if you get a bone graft, your recovery time would be longer than a standard dental implant. More so, your dental implant recovery time depends on the type of bone graft you receive. For instance, if the bone is taken from your own body, it would heal faster and better than when it is a synthetic bone or when taken from other sources.
Also, if the bone is in a particle form, it will heal faster than when it is in a block form. The healing time is also affected by the amount of blood that is supplied to the areas of the dental implant surgery. And finally, the older the patient, the longer the healing time would be.
During a sinus lift, your dentist basically lifts your upper jaw by inserting some bone into the maxillary sinus – the region above the back teeth, which is on both sides of the nose – hence the name sinus lift. Your dentist would do this should in case the back part of your upper jaw lacks enough bone to support dental implants.
This is a type of bone graft and is commonly carried out when the patient’s jaw is not wide enough to support dental implants. After carrying out ridge expansion, the dentist can now fix the dental implants. Some dentists proceed with dental implant surgery immediately after ridge expansion, while others wait for a few months for complete recovery.
Distraction osteogenesis is another type of bone graft options. This option is normally used to make the jaw bone taller or larger for better support for the dental implants. During this process, your dentist would cut some bone from your jaw bone and would place a titanium device using screws and pins in-between the separated bone and the jaw bone. Your dentist will unscrew the titanium device a little bit daily to make the jaw bone grow “taller” over time.
Following the above four methods – bone graft, sinus lift, ridge expansion, and distraction osteogenesis, your dentist can fix your bone loss for dental implants surgery.
Risks of Bone Grafting
Risks are always involved with any form of surgery or medical procedure irrespective of how simple the process may be. Generally, bone grafting procedures may involve the risk of bad reactions to anesthesia, infection, and bleeding in addition to inflammation, nerve injury, swelling, pains, reabsorption of the bone graft into the body, and rejection of the bone graft the body.
Sometimes, some certain factors, which include injury to the tooth, gum, or jawbone; infections; or gum disease, etc. may cause bone loss even after a dental implant. Though there were debates among dentists on why bone loss should happen after dental implants. If this happens to you, the first thing you should do is to contact your dentist for treatment options and official diagnosis. You can as well follow these basic steps: taking probiotics, getting plenty of calcium, eating a balanced and healthy diet, and maintaining good oral hygiene.
Due to the terrible effects associated with bone loss, it is recommended that you always keep good oral hygiene and visit your dentist regularly.