Dental Implants, Bone Loss, And Grafting
Some people choose to have dental implants installed to replace teeth that have been lost. And it is possible to have an implant inserted even if you have some bone loss. To find out more about bone loss issues, how much bone is needed to insert an implant, and what happens if there is not enough bone along the jaw, keep reading.
How Much Bone Is Needed For An Implant?
To ensure the security and strength of a dental implant, about one millimeter of healthy bone is needed around the device. If dental implants are close to one another or right next to one another, then more solid bone is needed. In this situation, two to three millimeters of bone is required around the implant. This bone thickness prevents implant movement when you bite and chew. It also helps to secure the implant strongly as new bone grows around the device during the initial healing process.
Bone assessments will be completed by your dental professional at the beginning of the implant process. Basic x-rays will give the dentist a good idea if the bone is thick enough. If x-rays show a potentially thin bone structure, more direct images may be needed with a handheld x-ray device. In some cases, your dentist may ask for a CT scan. This is most often needed if the professional thinks that bone grafting may be necessary.
What Happens When There Is Not Enough Bone?
When there is not enough thickness along the jaw, then bone can be added during a surgical procedure. This is called bone grafting, and there are several different types of grafts that can be created. Block grafting is common where a small block of bone is inserted into the tooth socket or bone ridge area. The block is taken from your body or from a donor piece of bone. And it helps to create a substantial area for the dental implant root.
Slivers of bone as well as granules of both synthetic and natural bone material can be used too. And once the graft is created, your dentist will place a protective membrane over the graft. The membrane dissolves over time as the graft heals. The gums are stitched over the top, and the graft area is left for several months until the area is ready for surgical implant root insertion. Healing times can vary depending on the type of bone graft used, so ask your dentist about this.