Patients who have lost one tooth or multiple teeth but do not replace them for an extended period of time may experience natural deterioration or resorption of the jaw bone. Once the jaw bone has begun to deteriorate or reabsorb, it can become quite challenging to place dental implants in that area. A shortage or an absence of bone can make it difficult for the implant to fuse with the jaw, and the implant is often too weak to support the tooth crown that will be placed. Patients who do not address this shortage run the risk of experiencing long-term complications and, ultimately, implant failure. Fortunately, Dr. Donald Cohen offers multiple options to overcome this issue using bone grafting techniques.
A bone graft can be applied to single missing tooth sockets, sinus cavities, and larger areas that contain several missing teeth. The bone graft material can be obtained from a variety of sources, including
- Autogenous bone grafts that are harvested directly from the patient’s body and affords the most predictable outcome following surgery
- Allograft bone grafts that are harvested from a cadaver
- Xenografts that are harvested from a cow bone
- Bone Morphogenetic Protein, BMP, a synthetic bone compound created in a lab
While utilizing your own bone is always the best option, this is not always a possibility. If the patient’s own bone can be used, it is often taken from the bone around the third molar in the upper or lower jaw, the chin, the hip, or the tibia. When the patient’s own bone cannot be used to make the graft, the surgeon will either use a mineral bone substitute or collect the bone from a tissue bank.
Why do I need a bone graft?
There are several reasons that you may be missing a tooth, such as a facial trauma incident that has knocked out the tooth or fractured the jaw. The consequences of tooth and jaw bone loss include but are not limited to
- Misalignment, drifting, loosening, and loss of the remaining healthy teeth
- Collapsed facial profile
- Limited lip support
- Skin wrinkling around the mouth
- Distortion of other facial features
- Jaw (temporomandibular joint TMJ) pain, facial pain, and headaches
- Difficulty speaking and communicating
- Inadequate nutrition as a result of the inability to chew properly and painlessly
- Sinus expansion
The rate of deterioration varies greatly among individuals, making it difficult to determine the amount of jaw bone loss an individual has suffered without proper examination by a qualified oral and maxillofacial surgeon. In general, jaw bone resorption usually begins to take place immediately following the loss or removal of a tooth and continues to worsen as time goes on.
Which bone grafting treatment is right for me?
To preserve an empty tooth socket following the loss or extraction of a tooth, you may receive a small oral bone graft to fill the socket. This procedure is simple, safe, and effective, affording you a quick recovery time and continual benefits, such as increased jaw bone health. For several weeks following the socket preservation procedure, the bone graft that was placed in your socket integrates with your natural bone, providing a solid anchor for a replacement dental implant.
Sinus Lift Procedure
Behind your cheeks and on top of your upper teeth, you have maxillary sinuses, which always remain empty. The bone that separates your mouth from these sinuses is typically very thin, making it difficult to place stable implants into the bone following tooth loss. Fortunately, the surgical team at Houston Oral Surgery & Dental Implant Center utilizes a bone grafting technique that solves this problem, called a sinus lift. During the procedure, Dr. Cohen carefully enters into the sinus cavity and lift the sinus membrane. Once he has safely entered this area, our oral surgeon can place a bone graft that will integrate with the jaw bone over several months following the procedure. Once the bone graft has been fully integrated with the jaw bone, dental implants can be placed in a separate surgical visit.
The bone that surrounds and supports the teeth, known as the alveolar ridge bone, can naturally deteriorate or become less dense over time. When this occurs, a special type of bone grafting procedure, known as a ridge expansion, can help to strengthen and support the bone. A ridge expansion is a more complex form of bone grafting that involves surgically splitting the bony ridge of the jaw and inserting bone graft material into the new space created by Dr. Cohen. The procedure is designed to widen the jaw to increase the bone width and create a solid anchor for dental implants.
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