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Implants Into The Jawbone – Is Bone Augmentation Needed?

For many people, tooth implants are a natural option to consider when looking into cosmetic dental solutions for missing teeth.  An implant can look and feel completely natural, and be permanent enough to last for decades or potentially for the rest of a person’s life.

There is one major consideration, however, which can greatly affect the viability of tooth implants:  How much bone remains in a person’s jaw.  Implants require solid bone to be set in place, and if teeth have been missing – particularly for a long time – the bone may have degraded to the point it cannot naturally support implants.

In these situations, there are a couple options.  One is to simply consider other alternatives, such as traditional dentures, which do not require implants.  For patients who want implants, however, there are still ways to augment the bone in their jaws and skulls to make the implants possible.

Ways Of Augmenting Bone To Prepare For Implants

  1. Bone Grafts

The most common option here, in many cases, is to perform bone grafts.  This is a safe and highly effective procedure which involves building up the amount of bone in one part of the mouth, by taking bone from other unnecessary areas.  The patient’s own bone is generally used, to reduce the chance of complications.

One or more bone grafts can then rebuild missing jaw-bone in layers.  The procedure is done under sedation, and will require some weeks or months recovery while the grafts fully integrate into the existing bone.  Once completed, the area is ready to receive implants.

  1. Sinus Lifts

Bone grafts become a problem when talking about the upper back jawbone.  Missing upper back teeth cause the jawbone to quickly degrade, as the patient’s sinus cavity “takes over” the space the jawbone previously occupied.  This means a traditional bone graft cannot be done.

In this case, a surgical procedure called a sinus lift – or sinus augmentation – is called for.  The dental surgeon adds bone to the bottom of the sinus cavity, to make room for new teeth to be implanted.  Unlike a bone graft, this usually involves the use of freeze-dried bone.  The procedure does not affect speech or sinus function and, if successful, creates a strong new foundation for implants.

  1. Ridge Expansion

Finally, if a person’s jaw is too thin to fully support their mouth of teeth, ridge expansion is an option.  This adds lateral material to the top of the jaw, literally expanding it to make more room.  This is another bone graft procedure, and will create a solid basis to add teeth or correct for severe miss-alignments in existing teeth.

Your Cosmetic Dentist Can Help Guide You

Bone augmentation is a serious procedure, and requires careful study and consultation with a skilled cosmetic dentist.  If you are missing teeth and think you may want implants, contact the offices of Dr. Christopher Moore and Associates to schedule a set of X-Rays and consultation.


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