Dental Implants: When Can Bone Grafting Help?

Dental Implants: When Can Bone Grafting Help?

Every year in the United States, more than two million dental implant procedures are performed, helping women and men with missing teeth restore their smiles and their bite function. Implants rely on your natural jawbone to provide adequate support and security — so what happens if your jawbone is too thin to provide that support? That’s when bone grafting can help.

Patients in Oakland, California, rely on Brandon Kang, DDS, and the team at Pacific Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery Center to tailor dental implant procedures to each individual’s unique needs — and that includes the use of bone grafts when necessary. Here’s how to tell if a bone graft might be right for you.

How implants work

Dental implants are made of three components: the implant post that’s secured into your jawbone; the artificial tooth or crown; and an attachment piece called an abutment. The post is made of durable titanium, and when implanted into your jaw, it acts like a tooth “root” to secure the crown.

Dentures and bridges can also be used to replace missing teeth, but they do have some drawbacks. Bridges need two strong teeth on either side to offer support, and attaching a bridge alters those teeth as well. A denture rests on top of your gum, and although regular adjustments can help keep it secure, it can still slip, causing both embarrassment and sores.

Dental implants are designed more like a natural tooth’s structure. Once in place, your implant will look, feel, and work like the natural tooth you lost, restoring your smile and helping you feel extra confident about your teeth.

When bone grafting makes sense

Implant placement typically takes 2-3 office visits. At the first visit, the post is implanted into your jaw, and impressions are made that help guide the creation of your crown. Your jawbone heals around the post for several weeks before your crown is attached. During this time, the implant post and your natural jawbone fuse together to ensure your implant is very secure.

However, if your jawbone is thin, it might not provide the strength needed to support your implant during chewing and biting. Bone grafts help augment or supplement your natural jawbone tissue. A graft uses a very small amount of bone tissue — usually from your palate. 

This tiny bit of bone is implanted into your jaw right where the post will be placed. In fact, the grafting procedure often is performed when the post is placed. Over time, both the bone tissue and the post fuse with the surrounding bone, providing a firm, secure attachment for your implant post and crown.

Not everyone needs bone grafts when they get dental implants. Typically, grafts are needed in people whose jawbones are naturally thin or when tooth loss occurred some time ago, and the jawbone has atrophied since then. 

Dental implants for your more beautiful smile

Dental implants can do amazing things for your smile, but that’s just one benefit. By replacing missing teeth, your implant helps restore and maintain a normal bite balance, reducing your risk of temporomandibular joint disorder, headaches, and jaw strain. 

Plus, unlike dentures and bridges, implants can help promote healthy jaw tissue around your missing tooth, working to prevent additional tooth loss in the future.

Whether you’re missing one tooth or several, implants can help. To find out more, book an appointment online or over the phone at Pacific Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery Center today. 

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