Dental implants have become one of the most popular solutions to repair missing teeth. The only challenge is that so many people are told they don’t qualify for a dental implant unless they have a bone graft.
It’s become almost common practice to assume that a bone graft might be required in order to receive dental implants. While that’s not always the case, there are many times that a bone graft might be necessary.
Check out this guide to learn more and if you have other options.
What are Dental Implants?
Dental implants are used to replace lost or missing teeth. Whether you have an extraction and want a semi-permanent replacement or you have several teeth that need to be replaced, dental implants can be used. These implants are typically done per tooth but it’s also possible to get several teeth on a single implant. This will depend on your needs.
The way an implant works is that a tooth is created to properly fit your missing tooth. That tooth has a titanium post in it that is inserted up into the gums and the jawbone. When the dental implants work correctly, they go through what is called osseointegration.
Osseointegration ultimately means that the post and the jawbone will bond or fuse together so that the implant has a stable foundation.
It is the osseointegration process that requires the bone to substantiate the fusion of the bone to the implant post.
What is a Bone Graft?
A bone graft is a procedure that takes bone and places it into the area that needs bone. This is a surgical procedure, and it does require healing time for the graft before an implant can be placed. This procedure is considered a standard or common procedure, but a person could experience some discomfort or swelling afterward.
The bone graft can be bone that comes from your person. There are some standard locations that bone can be pulled from. However, it’s also possible to get bone from a donor or even to use a synthetic material that mimics bone instead.
When it comes to teeth implants, the bone graft is used to apply additional bone to the jawbone. This thickens the jawbone so that it willy be able to effectively support the implant when it is placed.
How Much Bone is Needed?
When you’re considering a dental implant, there are some standard measurements for the jawbone.
In most cases, your jawbone needs to be at least 1MM for the implant to be placed. There are also some circumstances in which the jawbone actually has to be 2-3MM instead. This heavily depends on where the implant is going to be placed and what the spacing looks like in the placement as well.
It is when you have less bone than is necessary that a bone graft is recommended.
Some practices have started using alternatives to implants that still work similarly. Bone grafts can be invasive procedures and they are often accompanied by lengthy healing time before the implant can be placed. This is a literal pain but also a major inconvenience.
Here are some alternative solutions to bone grafting.
One potential solution is to use an implant-supported denture known as zygomatic implants. This is meant to still be a semi-permanent solution that provides more stability than traditional dentures might.
The implant-supported denture uses a rod or some type of implantation and strategically places it in the mouth to have the needed structure. However, not everyone can take advantage of this solution still.
The zygomatic dental implant actually uses your cheekbone, rather than the jawbone in order to avoid bone grafting.
This type of implant requires an anchor to be placed. This anchor is placed in the location where you previously had wisdom teeth. Of course, that is assuming that you no longer have wisdom teeth.
Trans-sinus implants utilize the bone that is available in your sinuses. Some dentists will do a sinus lift as well in order to make more room in the jawbone. This provides you additional bone if the jawbone simply isn’t sufficient enough as is.
Rebuilding with a prosthetic avoids using a bone graft. You still utilize the jawbone but rather than grafting to fill in the jawbone, a prosthetic is put into place to fill in the area needed for the jawbone. The prosthetic is made out of porcelain and will need some time to heal as well before implant placement.
This type of implant has become less common through the years, but it is still available. In this scenario, the implant is placed just on top of, or above, the jawbone. It avoids a grafting process when that is simply not a feasible option.
Can I Get Implants Without Bone Grafting?
The answer to this question is “it depends”. While there are alternative solutions, they may not be viable or available to everyone. Ideally, the best results happen when you are able to get the bone graft and have a solid foundation to your dental implants. This has become the preferred course of action.
With that in mind, there are alternatives out there for a reason. It’s quite possible that you could qualify for dental implants without bone grafting. Be sure to check with your provider to fully understand what your options are.
In closing, bone grafts and dental implants seem to go hand in hand. There are many successful dental implants that never require bone grafting. This ultimately depends on how much bone remains to your jawbone.
While bone grafting is a common solution, there are other ways to fil the need for bone and potentially be able to get dental implants without a bone graft. Every provider is different and has their own procedures and allowances. Be sure to share your concerns and questions with your provider to get clear answers. This is the best way to know exactly what your options are.