Replacing teeth with dental implants: do I have enough bone?

A Dental implant is an artificial root  (similar to a tooth root) generally made up of titanium, which is inserted surgically into the jawbone beneath the gum line.  The implant acts as an anchor for an artificial tooth that is in turn attached to the implant. [1] Dental implants, contrary to dentures and bridges, do not come loose and need not be attached to other teeth.  To read more on being a potential implant therapy candidate, read our blog on the subject.

For dental implants to be placed successfully, the jawbone must have enough bone in order to support the implant placement. However, in a number of causes there is an insufficiency of natural bone, which could have been caused by any of the following reasons:Dental implants smile

  • Periodontal (gum) disease
  • Trauma or injury to the teeth or mouth
  • Tooth development defects
  • Wearing of dentures for a long-term

In the case where there is insufficient bone, the patient has to undergo a procedure technically known as bone grafting (or the augmentation of bone). 

Bone grafting is a safe and highly successful procedure that uses one of various methods to “build” or add bone to the jawbone. Generally, bone grafting is performed by using a patient’s own natural bone from the jaw-for example- or from another location- many times the hip. [2] Alternatively, bone grafting can be done by utilizing synthetic bone materials.

The dental implant specialist- typically an Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon should discuss all the advantages of using the various forms of bone grafting available with the patient, in order to come to an informed decision on the best alternative.

What does a typical bone grafting for a one-tooth replacement procedure look like?

 Dental bone graftA typical bone grafting procedure for a one-tooth implant starts out by a patient seeking to replace a tooth with a crown supported implant that has been missing for a couple of years.  In this case, the jawbone would not have enough bone to successfully support an implant and bone grafting would be a chosen path for such patient.

Before the procedure takes place, the patient would have taken a Cone Beam CT scan, to provide a 3D view of the jaw. This form of x-ray offers an added layer of precision to the dental implant surgery.  

Bone grafting usually takes place at the Oral Surgeon’s office, and it involves the use of local anaesthesia- at times it can also involve intravenous sedation. [3]

Bone grafting for dental implantsA time of period needs to pass by before the grafted bone fuses and becomes a strong part of the already existing bone. This period of time can vary depending on the place where the bone graft will take place, and the density of the bone. Approximately a minimum of three months should pass by for this step to be completed successfully.  It is only after the bone has fused properly that the dental implant will be placed.

To learn whether you are a candidate for dental implant therapy, contact one of our Oral and Maxillo facial Surgeons at Seaforth Oral Surgery for an initial consultation.

Related topics:

Learn about zygomatic dental implants or all-on-4 dental implants

Are dental implants for life?

[1] “Canadian Dental Association: Your Oral Health.”

[2] “Bone Augmentation Article | Dentures & Dental Implants | Colgate® Oral Care Information Seniors.”

[3] “Bone Augmentation for Dental Implants | Find a Dentist with AAID | American Academy of Implant Dentistry.”

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