Dental implants are a common procedure used to replace teeth that have been lost through decay, illness or injury. However, dental implants require strong bones to work properly. This leads many people to wonder if they can still have dental implants with severe bone loss. This is possible, there are just a few extra steps involved.
Can You Still Have Dental Implants With Severe Bone Loss?
In short, yes, you can still have dental implants with severe bone loss. There are a few ways to go about this, and this will depend on the type of bone loss you have, and where the dental implants will be placed. Dental implants with severe bone loss will require either a bone graft or a zygomatic dental implant.
Why Does Bone Loss Affect Dental Implants?
To understand why bone loss affects your ability to get dental implants, it’s important to understand how dental implants work. Dental implants are different from dental bridges and dentures because they attach directly to the jaw bone. The dental implants are anchored with a screw inserted into the bone. The false tooth or teeth cover the screw and look and feel just like natural teeth.
It’s also helpful to understand how bone loss works, especially in the bones surrounding the teeth. When teeth are missing, the jawbone begins to weaken. The regular pressure and force from the tooth is no longer exerted on that part of the bone, so the bone begins to lose its strength. Periodontal disease, decay and bacteria, among other causes, can also weaken the jawbone. If the bone is not strong enough to support the dental implants, a zygomatic dental implants or a bone graft can help.
Zygomatic Dental Implants
Zygomatic dental implants are a simpler solution than bone grafts, and can help patients with severe bone loss get dental implants. A zygomatic dental implant uses a different bone than other dental implants, which are implanted into the maxilla (upper jaw bone) or the mandible (lower jaw bone). The zygomatic bone, also known as the cheekbone, does not suffer bone loss in the same way that the jaw bones do. While the bones around the teeth will weaken when teeth are lost, the cheekbones will remain strong.
This means dental implants can still be used even if you’ve experienced severe bone loss. Your dental implants can be anchored to the zygomatic bone instead. Zygomatic dental implants will heal faster than a bone graft and this process is generally simpler. However, this intervention is only effective for the upper jaw.
Bone Grafts and Dental Implants
If a zygomatic dental implant is not an option, particularly in the cases of bone loss in the mandible, a bone graft can also help to restore the jawbone and make dental implants possible. A bone graft is a more complex process, but can be highly effective for restoring the health of the teeth and jawbones. In addition to making dental implants possible, a bone graft can also help to strengthen the jawbone and restore face shape, chewing and speaking comfort, and help to prevent further damage.
In a bone graft, a section of healthy bone is taken from another area of the body and implanted into the damaged area. Bone is a living tissue, so weakened or damaged gone is capable of incorporating the grafted bone as it heals. However, this process takes longer. It will take at least a month for the weakened bone to incorporate the healthy bone and become stable enough for a dental implant. Then, the dental implants process will also require healing time.
You can have dental implants with severe bone loss. A bone graft or a zygomatic dental implant can make this possible. This process will likely be easier for teeth lost on the upper jaw, however there are options for all types of lost teeth. If you are considering dental implants but you are concerned about bone loss, talk to your dentist. Your dentist can give you more information and help you decide if a bone graft or zygomatic implant would be a good option for you.