Choosing to invest in dental implants is no minor decision. The procedure requires small surgeries, and the overall process can last months, requiring dedication to restoring oral health and a full smile. The results, however, are well worth the time and effort for most patients.Before deciding to commit, patients first need to understand the different…
Ask a Dentist: Do I Need to Get a Bone Graft to Get Dental Implants?
If you are considering dental implants to replace one or more missing teeth, you may wonder whether you require a bone graft first. Grafting involves placing bone material in the jaw to strengthen it so it can support an implant. While a bone graft often precedes a dental implant, you do not necessarily require the former before having the latter.
Reasons for bone grafting before placing dental implants
After an implant is placed, it undergoes a process called osseointegration, during which it becomes strongly bonded with the jawbone. However, the quality of bone in the socket left behind by the missing tooth may not be good.
When a tooth is missing, its roots no longer stimulate the jawbone. Because of the lack of stimulation, the brain sends a signal to the rest of the body that the jawbone is no longer doing its job. The body then starts to leach calcium from the jawbone for use elsewhere. The process is called resorption, and it can cause the bone density in the area of the tooth loss to decrease, starting within the first year after losing the tooth.
If the bone density is not sufficient to support the implant, it may fail. Bone grafting restores density to a level that is sufficient to support a dental implant. The implant then stimulates the jawbone the way the roots of a tooth would, preventing further resorption and loss of bone density.
Conditions that may require bone grafting
Prior to a dental implant procedure, a dental professional performs an evaluation to assess your bone density in the area of your tooth loss. If the jaw is still showing sufficient density, no bone grafting is needed. However, certain circumstances increase the likelihood that you need a graft.
You need an implant in the upper jaw
The sinuses are hollow spaces within the skull. Also called the maxilla, the upper jaw is adjacent to the floor of the sinuses. Grafting may be necessary to replace upper molars with dental implants because the bone in this area may not be either dense enough or deep enough to support them.
You have an underlying condition that affects bone density
Advanced gum disease can spread to the jaw and cause loss of bone density, rendering it insufficient to support a dental implant without a graft. If you had an injury to your jaw in the past, that could also affect its ability to support an implant and require grafting. You may also have a congenital condition that affects bone density.
You delayed dental implant treatment
The process of calcium resorption begins as soon as the tooth is lost. The longer you wait after a tooth is lost or extracted to have the implant procedure, the more likely you are to need a bone graft.
Bone grafts restore lost density to the jaw in preparation to support dental implants. However, if the bone density is still sufficient, it is not necessary to perform grafting prior to implantation.
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