Chances are that you’ve never thought about it, but your jawbone is what gives your teeth the strength and support they need to chew a wide variety of foods. As long as the roots of your teeth are completely surrounded by healthy bone, your teeth will remain solid. Dental implants are no different! Since these titanium posts essentially act as replacement roots, they also need plenty of healthy jawbone for support. Unfortunately, some patient’s jaws are too thin or weak to keep implants in place (especially people with a history of trauma or gum disease, or those who lost their teeth a long time ago, as the bone begins deteriorating as soon as the teeth are removed). With that said, however, bone loss doesn’t mean that implants won’t work for you. A periodontist (gum specialist) has 4 ways of strengthening the jaw to help everyone enjoy the benefits of dental implants in Houston, even after bone loss!
1. Bone Graft
A bone graft is done by adding granules of bone material to your jaw. On top of the addition of new bone, this also encourages your body to re-grow lost bone in the area. The procedure usually takes 45-90 minutes, after which around 3-6 months are needed before the strength and density of the jawbone are restored.
2. Sinus Lift
The roots of your upper teeth actually extend into your sinuses (in many people, this is easily seen on X-rays). This occurs because the height of the upper jaw is naturally shorter than that of the lower jaw, especially around the back teeth. With less bone to work with, there may not be enough room to accommodate the length of an implant.
In these cases, a periodontist may recommend a sinus lift. Just like a bone graft, this involves adding bone material to the upper jaw. But this procedure has the additional first step of “lifting” the sinuses to create the space for the bone to be added. Afterward, it typically takes several months before the dental implant procedure can be done.
3. Ridge Expansion
Your jaws have a certain length and width. If you’ve lost bone vertically, the jaw isn’t tall enough to accommodate the length of an implant. If you’ve lost bone horizontally, the jaw isn’t wide enough to accommodate the width of an implant.
While a bone graft procedure (described above) restores the bone vertically, a ridge expansion restores the bone horizontally by making the jaw wider.
4. Distraction Osteogenesis
The term distraction means separating two pieces of bone. The term osteogenesis refers to the creation of new bone. A procedure called distraction osteogenesis combines the two by slowly separating two pieces of bone and creating space for new bone to fill in the gap. While it sounds like an uncomfortable process, people actually say it’s very mild, much like the sensation you would have from wearing braces.
These 4 procedures are excellent options for anyone who’s experienced bone loss in Houston. Although they do require extra time and effort, they ultimately make it possible to get dental implants, an outstanding solution that looks and feels like your own teeth and can last a lifetime.