Dental implants are one of the stars of cosmetic and restorative dentistry. The dental replacements are secured with a metal screw in the jawbone that keeps the artificial crown on top firmly in place. This firmness is welcomed during eating as the implants offer a natural-like feeling while chewing.
Patients with jawbone-related issues might think dental implants are off the table. But there are a few different ways that a dentist can overcome these issues and later place the dental implant for a strong and attractive smile.
Weak Jawbone: Bone Graft
Dental implants require a strong, sufficiently thick jawbone to securely hold the metal root in place. But jawbones aren't always up to the task. Osteoporosis, decay, and genetics can all cause bone that's less dense or thinner than what an implant requires. Your dentist might recommend a bone graft to fix this issue and clear the way for an implant.
Bone grafts use bone from either your hip or other areas of your jawbone -- or the bone of a cow -- to fill in weak patches of bone. The graft bone is inserted into the weakened areas and the overlaying gums are stitched close to allow healing. Once the bone has time to heal, the graft bone and original bone will have fused into one piece. And that piece might now be ready to receive the first step of the dental implant process.
Note that undergoing a graft does make the implant process longer as there's an additional healing period required.
Close Sinus: Sinus Lift
Is your missing tooth on the upper jaw? Your maxillary sinus passes directly above the upper jaw and might stand in the way of the screw being drilled deep enough to hold up the implant. The dentist can fix this issue with a sinus lift procedure.
The sinus lift involves cutting into the gums and bone then pushing up the sinus cavity manually. Graft bone is then shoved into the space vacated by the cavity so that the sinus stays propped up. The gums are stitched closed and the bone will heal together as it would in an ordinary graft. The bone fusion ensures that the sinus won't slip back down into its prior positioning.
Narrow Bone: Subperiosteal Implant
Is your jawbone narrower than normal? Your bone ridge might not be wide enough to safely support an implanted metal root. Ask your dentist if a subperiosteal implant might be an option.
Subperiosteal implants sit on a fitted metal framework that sits over the jawbone. So you don't need to have thick ridges to sufficiently hold the implant up. The frame around the bone and the covering gum tissue are what holds this type of implant in place.
Talk with a dentist at a practice like Dental Services Of Rochester if you have specific questions about the procedure options for dental implants.