Dental implants have revolutionized how we can restore incomplete smiles. As the base for single tooth replacements, bridges and full dentures, they support your bone and give you a more stable solution for dental prostheses. For people with bone loss, your oral surgeon may recommend getting bone grafting before your implants. This now-routine procedure can help you achieve a more complete, secure smile.
Why Do Dental Implants Require Grafts?
Titanium implants sit inside the gum and jaw bone. They rely on the surrounding bone for support. In a healthy jaw, the bone will heal around a fresh implant and effectively cement it in place. A jaw with bone loss is weaker. It may not cement the implant in place, and it provides a less stable base for the implant. The amount of grafting necessary will depend on the amount of bone loss and the number of implants needed.
Not all implant procedures require grafting. Bone grafts are typically necessary when there’s bone loss in the areas where the implants need to go or the jaw isn’t otherwise enough for the implants. In some cases, a surgeon may decide to use grafting as an “insurance policy” to make sure an implant will be successful even in a healthier jaw.
Why Does Bone Loss Occur?
Our bones are living tissues. They can be damaged by disease and often rely on other structures to support them. The most common cause of bone loss is missing teeth. The bone in our jaw is strengthened by the pressure of our teeth and the action of chewing. When a tooth is lost, the surrounding bone reabsorbs into the body. The longer the tooth has been missing, the more extensive the bone loss will be.
Gum disease is another common cause of bone loss. As the infection sinks below the gum line, it loosens the teeth and weakens the bone. Because of risk factors like diabetes, dry mouth, hypertension and weakened immune systems, the elderly are disproportionately at risk for gum disease. Any disease that causes bone loss directly, like osteoporosis, can weaken the bone as well.
How Bone Grafting Works
Bone grafting works by combining a graft material with a growth medium. The graft material works like a scaffold, encouraging your body to fill in the spaces around the graft with fresh bone.
The graft material can be artificial “bone”, sterile donor bone or bone taken from your own body. It’s crushed into a powder and mixed with a growth medium. The growth medium is a mixture of collagen and protein that stimulate bone growth.
Gateway Oral Surgeons offers two augmented implantation methods: Platelet-rich plasma uses platelets taken from your own blood. Platelets are rich in growth factions, and they’ve been shown to improve the speed, healing time and overall success rate of bone grafts.
Bone morphogenetic protein (BMP). BMP occurs naturally in your own body, though in small amounts, and stimulates bone healing and growth. We use an identical, lab-created version. It’s soaked into a sponge made of collagen and set in place with donor bone tissue.
In some cases, like for implant-supported dentures, you may have bone grafting done on the same day as your dental implants. In cases of extensive bone loss, you may need separate grafting with an accompanying procedure to restore your jaw thickness prior to implant placement.
- Sinus Augmentation: One of the best places to put an implant is often the molar region of the jaw. Unfortunately, it can also be a difficult area. The bone is thin with the sinus cavity in close proximity. During a sinus augmentation, the sinus floor is surgically lifted and then thickened with bone graft material.
- Ridge Modification: Bone loss anywhere along the inside ridge of the jaw can complicate implant placement. Incisions are made along the gums to expose the affected area, and the problem spot is filled in with bone grafting material.
- Distraction Osteogenesis: Bone loss often causes the jaw to shrink. During distraction osteogenesis, a key area of the bone is cut and carefully pulled apart. The space is packed with grafting material to thicken the site.
- Socket Preservation: Socket preservation, also known as aveolar ridge preservation, is performed at the same time a tooth is pulled to help preserve the bone. The wound is packed with grafting material and either sutured closed, or covered with a collagen material..
For more information or to schedule a consultation, contact Gateway Oral Surgeons of St. Louis.