As people age, they sometimes lose teeth, and this can affect other areas of the mouth. For instance, the underlying bone of the jaw may begin to atrophy. The jawbone requires stimulation to produce enough bone cells to sustain proper density. The bite pressure incurred by the teeth stimulate the bone as the pressure is transferred from a tooth root to the jawbone. Without the stimulation, bone loss occurs.
Without sufficient bone mass, people who decide to replace their lost teeth with dental implants may be unable to do so. A traditional implant requires suitable jawbone mass to properly hold the device in place. Still, if a person has too little jawbone to move forward with a conventional dental implant restoration, there are corrective or alternative procedures to help. Here are a few of them:
Alternative Dental Implants
Mini Dental Implants
Mini implants are smaller and less intrusive than traditional implants. Due to their reduction in size, they require less bone for successful placement and support. The implants are still positioned in the jawbone at the site of the lost tooth, just as traditional implants are. Additionally, they provide similar strength and integrity.
Mini implants can even be used as supports for other dental devices, such as implant-supported bridges or dentures.
Zygomatic Dental Implants
Zygomatic dental implants are positioned in the zygoma, or cheekbone, instead of the jawbone. Since their placement bypasses the jawbone, jawbone density is not a factor in the procedure.
Because of the location of the placement of zygomatic implants, they are only appropriate for tooth replacements in the upper jaw or maxilla. Nevertheless, the procedure, like other implant restorations, is performed in the dental office using local anesthesia.
Are there additional alternatives?
If a traditional implant is still preferred, people with a limited amount of bone mass may have a bone graft to increase the amount of jawbone that is available for the procedure. The graft, which may be formed from the patient's own bone, the bone of an animal, or artificial bone, helps encourage the production of new bone cells.
After a graft, the patient's mouth must heal sufficiently before the implant restoration can begin. As a result, the restoration of the patient's teeth may be delayed by several months if a graft is used.
To learn more about receiving a dental implant when your jawbone has atrophied, schedule an appointment with a cosmetic dentist at a dental office like Carolina Forest Family Dentistry in your area.