There are several reasons why you may not have sufficient jawbone material to place an implant. For example, if you have had a missing tooth for several years, the bone around the area where the tooth was will lose its structure. Some people simply do not have wide enough jawbones or deep enough bones to securely place an implant. However, if your dentist tells you that you are not a good candidate for traditional implants, you still have several options to prepare the site in your mouth and successfully have implants placed.
One of the most common types of augmentations that are considered in order to place implants when there is insufficient jaw material is a bone graft. However, bone grafts are not a simple, one-size-fits-all solution. There are many types of bone grafts. The easiest and least invasive bone graft involves taking a piece of your own bone from another place near the implant site and requiring only oral surgery. This makes a rejection less likely.
If this is not possible, your dentist may suggest grafting synthetic material or cadaver bone with the assistance of your blood to reduce rejection. In extreme cases, a piece from your upper or lower leg may be taken and grafted onto your jaw, which requires a more intensive surgery.
One of the more recent developments in implant dentistry involves what is known as guided technology to place extended implants. This involves taking CT scans of your cheek and jaw to determine where an implant can successfully be placed. Then, using computer imaging to guide the placement, the dentist will place an implant. If you do not have enough bone on the jaw, an extended implant can be placed into the cheek bone in some cases. This gives your dentist more placement options.
It is also considered an attractive option because the placement time is often much less than a bone graft. Instead of having to wait several months to make sure a bone graft has healed before placing an implant, an implant can often be placed in a single day. For this reason, these implants are sometimes referred to as, "lunchtime implants," or "one-hour implants." However, you should keep in mind that you will still have to make multiple appointments to have your facial structure mapped and create a treatment plan before the procedure can be completed.
One popular option for guided placement that is used when you need several teeth to be replaced involves the "all-on-four" technique. This involves making a full upper or lower prosthetic that is attached to four implants posts, two of which are tilted at a slight angle. This angle allows a dentist to place implants even when there is less bone than needed for vertical posts.
A final option if you do not have enough bone to place implants is to adjust the structure of your jaw using orthodontic methods. This usually involves placing one or more mini-implants into your gums. These are usually small implants that can be placed with local anesthetic and are commonly used in conjunction with braces. These anchor points are then used to slowly adjust the placement of your jaw, making it possible to place an implant. This options tends to take the longest, as it can take years to safely move your teeth and jaw into the correct position for an implant. However, some patients find this to be less invasive and a more attractive option than bone grafting.
If you are missing a single tooth or multiple teeth, it is likely that implants are an option for you. However, if you are not a candidate for traditional implants due to insufficient bone material, you may need to consider one of these procedures before you will be able to have an implant successfully placed.
For more information, contact a company like Schirmer Dentistry.