Dental Implants: When is Bone Grafting Required?

Dental implant surgery is a procedure that replaces tooth roots with metal, screw-like posts and replaces damaged or missing teeth with artificial ones. These replacement parts can look and function much like real ones so you may often forget they are artificial.

While dental implant cost is a bit higher compared to other options, it is still considered one of the best options available to replace missing teeth. It is obvious that despite the higher dental implant cost, it has continued to gain massive popularity. Dental implants are an excellent alternative to dentures or bridgework.

Aside from offering superior support, dental implants work by integrating with the surrounding jawbone. The fusion of the implant and the jawbone (known as osseointegration) can help ensure the artificial teeth have a strong foundation.

There are many different procedures involved in the process of performing dental implant surgery. It is important to know what type or condition your jawbone may be before you have it done, as this will determine how each step must go for safety reasons.

The major benefit of implants is solid support for new teeth. The bone must heal tightly around the implant. This process can take a few weeks to a few months depending if there are other procedures that are needed before the implantation can be carried out. For instance, if you need bone grafting, the process can take much longer.

Ideal Dental Implant Candidates

Dental implants serve as artificial roots of missing teeth. Since the implants will fuse with the jawbone, the implants won’t make noise, slip, or cause bone damage. Dental materials won’t decay like natural teeth. In essence, you are considered a good candidate for dental implants if:

  • You have one (or more) teeth missing
  • You have a jawbone that has reached full growth
  • You have enough bone structure to secure the implant in place
  • You have healthy oral tissues
  • You don’t have any health conditions that can affect bone healing
  • You don’t like wearing dentures
  • You are willing to commit several months to the process
  • You don’t smoke tobacco

When Bone Grafting Is Required

If the bone is too soft or not thick enough, bone grafting may be required before the dental implant procedure can take place. The powerful chewing action of the mouth will exert great pressure on the bone. If there is not enough bone that can support the implant, the procedure will likely fail. A bone graft is needed so there is a strong and solid base for the implant.

There are several bone graft materials available that can be utilized to rebuild your jawbone. Options can include natural bone graft (taken from another location in your body), synthetic bone graft, or bone-substitute material that can help provide support structures to encourage new bone growth.

Your doctor will be able to recommend the option that’s ideal for your case. It can take several months for the transplanted bone to grow and support the implant. In some instances, you will need only minor bone grafting. This can be done at the same time as your dental implant surgery.

Once the implant has been successfully placed in the jawbone, osseointegration will begin. During the process, the jawbone will grow into and unite with the surface of the implant. The process can take several months. It will also provide a solid base for the artificial tooth.

Once osseointegration has been completed, some may require additional surgery to place the abutment. The abutment is the piece where the crown will be attached. The procedure is often carried out using local anesthesia in an outpatient setting.