Tooth loss has many causes. Some of the most common include gum disease and facial trauma. No matter what causes tooth loss and how many teeth you lose, the event significant impacts your life. Your smile suffers. Basic functions like eating and speaking become more challenging. Hidden below your gumline, your jawbone begins to weaken. Dental implants are an incredible treatment for tooth loss that addresses all of these issues. However, dental implants rely significantly on your jawbone for success and stability. If your bone is too weak, Malmquist Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery can increase its strength, increasing the success of dental implants, with bone grafting.
Your Teeth and Your Jawbone
Your teeth play many important roles in your mouth. They enable you to bite and chew food. They control airflow and provide a surface for your tongue to hit to speak properly. They also play a very important role in the aesthetics of your smile. One of the lesser known roles of your teeth is the role they play in the health of your jawbone. As you chew, the roots of your teeth stimulate your jawbone. This triggers your body to send nutrients to the jaw and surrounding areas.
These nutrients keep the bone healthy and strong. Following tooth loss, your jawbone loses the stimulation from those teeth. Because of this, fewer nutrients are sent. Over time, the bone begins to lose mass and weaken. This causes the bone to change shape. Adjacent healthy teeth begin to shift out of place, altering your bite. As your bone changes, the shape of your face also changes, which can cause you to appear years older.
The Importance of your Jawbone for Implant Success
Dental implant posts are surgically placed into your jawbone. As you heal, the bone fuses to the posts, stabilizing them. This is a natural process called osseointegration. It turns the posts into strong roots that can provide support for your replacement teeth. If you have lost too much bone mass, however, the bone may not be able to fuse properly. If the bone does not fuse properly, your implants may be loose and unstable. Your implants may even fail.
Just because your bone is too weak during your initial implant consultation, this does not mean that they are not possible. If your bone is too weak, you may be recommended a procedure called bone grafting. This is a surgical procedure that involves transplanting bone graft material to the weak areas of your jawbone to restore its strength.
Bone grafting begins with small incisions in the gums, which give us access to the bone. Next, we take the grafting material and place it into the weak areas of your jaw. Once the procedure is complete, your gums are sutured closed. As you heal, your existing bone fuses to the grafting material, giving your jawbone back its strength. Once you have fully healed, we can begin the dental implant procedure.
Types of Bone Grafts
There are a few different types of bone grafts that may be performed. During your initial consultation, we will perform a thorough oral exam, take images of your mouth, and review your medical history. With this consultation, we can determine the best type of bone graft to meet your needs.
||Autograft. An allograft uses bone mass harvested from your own body. Typically, the bone is taken from your hip or tibia and is harvested during your implant surgery. While this type of graft does require an additional surgical wound, you are not at risk for disease transmission or graft rejection. This is because we are using your tissues.
||Allograft. An allograft uses tissue harvested from another human. We do not need to make additional surgical sites to harvest bone mass. The tissue is screened thoroughly before use to reduce any risks associated with using tissue from another individual.
||Xenograft. A xenograft uses bone mass harvested from an animal source. One of the most common sources is cow bone. The bone is processed at very high temperatures to make it safe for use. This type of graft is often used when larger amounts of bone mass are needed. Like an allograft, we do not have to harvest the bone from your own body, avoiding the need for an additional surgical site.
Bone grafting replaces missing bone mass in your jaw, restoring its strength. This helps to increase the success of dental implant treatment. For more information, and to find out if bone grafting is right for you, call Malmquist Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery at (503) 446-6776 today.