If you have followed this blog, you have probably read more than one reference to dental implants. These are one of the most important inventions in modern dentistry.
They help us provide complete teeth replacements, and they have helped many of our patients regain the ability to eat the foods that they enjoy.As long as you can support implants, they are one of the best (if not the best) option for replacing a missing tooth or teeth. Unfortunately, we have learned from our experience at Sunrise Dental that not everyone with missing teeth can support dental implants.Fortunately, there are ways to change that. Bone grafts can help, and we offer them at our dentist offices in Cary, Chapel Hill, Durham, and Raleigh.When Implants Won’t WorkWe often discuss the benefit of dental implants with regard to implant-supported dentures.Traditional dentures rest over your gums. They can look like natural teeth (as long as they don’t slip out of position). They can help you chew a little better than you could without any teeth, but it’s not the same as eating with a full set of natural teeth.Dental implants are anchored in your jawbone. This provides a more stable foundation to support your dentures. Implants help your dentures remain in place (so your smile looks natural), and implants help you to regain most of your original bite force.Problems occur when you don’t have enough bone mass to hold the implants. There are a couple reasons that can happen.Why You Lose Bone MassBone loss can occur as a result of losing your teeth, and it can occur as a result of gum disease. We’ll start by discussing how tooth loss affects your jawbone.The roots of your teeth and your jaw have a mutually beneficial relationship. Your jawbone holds your roots in position while your roots help your jawbone remain healthy and strong.In a way, these effects are activated when you eat. As you bite and chew your food, your roots press into your jawbone. This pressure stimulates the jawbone, and that leads to new growth, which keeps the jawbone healthy. The healthy jawbone holds onto your roots so your teeth remain where they are supposed to be.When you lose your teeth, your jawbone loses the stimulation it needs to remain healthy. In fact, if you lose one tooth, you may lose up to 25 percent of the bone mass in that part of your mouth within 12 months.If you are missing several teeth, the bone will continue to deteriorate unless you find a way to stimulate it. Traditional dentures rest over your gums, so they provide little if any stimulation. Even with traditional dentures, you can continue losing bone density.Gum disease is more a direct attack on your bone. In the advanced stages of gum disease, bacteria can start to eat away at the bone around your roots. (This is part of the reason gum disease is the leading cause of tooth loss in the United States.)You can develop gum disease even if you don’t have teeth, and this can make the bone loss you are already experiencing go even faster.How To Replace Your Lost BoneDental implants will provide the kind of stimulation your bones need to maintain their density. Implants will not cause your bone to regrow what has been lost, however.If you don’t have enough bone left to hold an implant, then we will need to get some bone from somewhere else.This bone is transplanted into your jaw where it is needed. The transplanted bone and your existing bone will fuse together, and after you have healed, we will be able to place your dental implants where they are needed.The bone for your transplant can come from a few different sources. One type of bone graft is done by removing bone from part of your mouth to the place where it is most needed. Another type of bone graft is done by removing bone from a donor.If you should need a bone graft, we can discuss the specifics and the options available to complete this procedure.Solid StartWe believe any patient who comes to Sunrise Dental should get the best results possible. We want your treatment to be as successful as possible, and we are proud that our staff is capable of providing bone grafts and other procedures in our office.If you are interested in dental implants, talk to any of our dentists. With offices in Cary, Chapel Hill, Durham, and Raleigh, we may be closer than you realize. Call or fill out our online form to make an appointment today.