Bone grafting basics

The loss of bone tissue in the jaw is an obstacle faced by some patients looking to get dental implants. In many cases, the solution to this problem is to add new bone growth through bone grafting treatment.

Understanding bone loss

The most common causes of bone loss in the jaw include:

  • Tooth loss: Your natural teeth are surrounded and supported by ridges of bone. When you lose a tooth, the empty socket that remains where you tooth was will slowly lose bone tissue over time as the ridges deteriorate. 
  • Misaligned teeth: Generating new bone tissue requires jawbone stimulation. When teeth are severely misaligned, biting and chewing may not provide sufficient stimulation to certain teeth. 
  • Periodontitis: Bacteria caused by periodontal disease can eat away at bone tissue if left untreated. Periodontitis can also weaken the ligaments that teeth in place and lead to tooth loss.

How to prevent bone loss

One great way to avoid bone grafting and the deterioration of bone tissue is to have a dental implant installed immediately after you lose your natural tooth. This is true both when a tooth is avulsed by accident or when a tooth is extracted by your dentist or oral surgeon due to damage or decay. Installing a dental implant straight away will protect your jawbone and stimulate new bone growth just like your natural tooth.

Single tooth replacement

Patients with a loss of bone tissue and missing just one or two teeth typically require a bone graft. This is because a single prosthetic tooth is supported by the dental implant having sufficient, healthy bone tissue available.

Full arch replacement

In the case of a full arch replacement (upper, lower, or both), moving forward with dental implants may be possible without the need for bone grafts. A full arch prosthesis can be attached to the jaw using as few as four to six implants, strategically placed in locations where the patient currently has adequate bone structure.

The longer you wait after losing a tooth, the more likely it is that bone grafting will be necessary before you are a candidate for dental implants.