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How Much Bone is Needed for a Dental Implant?

By May 21, 2022 August 15th, 2023 One Comment
teeth and implant graphic illustration

Dental implants are becoming more and more popular as a way to replace missing teeth. They are a long-term solution, and many people prefer this as opposed to dentures or crowns because of that. However, not everyone is a candidate for dental implants.

There are several reasons that someone might not be a candidate but one of the most common reasons is that they don’t have enough bone to support the implant. How much bone does it take?

Take a look at this guide to understand how much bone is needed for a dental implant and if there are options for making it work still.

How Dental Implants Work

Dental implants are unique in how they are placed in your mouth. The intent is to create a solution that will last far longer than most other teeth replacement solutions. For that reason, the teeth are actually implanted into your jawbone.

Dental implants use a titanium post to attach. The titanium post is inserted up into the jawbone. As the healing process progresses, the jawbone fuses to the post and it becomes a permanent part of the jaw.

One of the biggest challenges is ensuring enough bone for the implant to be inserted and encouraging the bone to fuse with the implant. If there isn’t enough bone, the jawbone won’t fuse properly, and dental implants could fail.

Dentists require a certain amount of jawbone to be there in order to do the implants.

person with rubber gloves showing the dental implant mode

How Much Bone is Needed?

How much bone is required could potentially depend on the placement of the implant. In most cases, the general requirement is to have at least 1 MM of bone to support the dental implant. This is the basic requirement, but you should know that there are times when more bone might be needed.

For example, if another implant is nearby or the tooth is very close to the implant, you might actually need more like 2 to 3 MM of bone in order to support the implant for success. Your dentist will know just exactly what is needed in order to make the implant work and they will make their decision accordingly.

The rule of thumb is that the dental implant must be able to be fully enclosed in your jawbone and leave some space so the implant will not interfere with something like the sinuses or the nerves.

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Options if You Don’t Have Enough Bone

Have you been told you don’t have enough bone for dental implants? Or maybe you suspect that to be the case. This is a legitimate reason not to do a dental implant, but you should know that you have options still.

When there isn’t enough bone present, there are actually several ways to add to the bone and be able to still do the implants. Some of the processes can be a bit invasive and most of them require some healing from the process before the implant can be placed. However, they are still a viable choice.

a woman with her dentist

Bone Graft

The most common solution for adding to your bone is to have a bone graft completed. In this scenario, bone can be taken from somewhere else on your person and grafted to the jawbone to allow for enough bone to proceed.

The bone graft could also be taken from a donor or even a synthetic bone material if needed. The availability of options will depend on your provider. This procedure doesn’t take a lot of time to complete but it does take several months to heal typically.

When a bone graft is used, the dental implants should not be inserted until the bone graft has had time to heal sufficiently and fuse with the natural bones in your jaw.

Why Don’t I Have Enough Bone?

If you feel like all of your oral health is fine, understanding why you don’t have enough bone can be a challenge. Not having enough bone is actually a fairly common issue. It doesn’t necessarily mean that you did something wrong.

The most common reason that you don’t have enough bone is simply that the space for the implants has been bare for too long so the bone there hasn’t been stimulated and can experience resorption. This happens from injuries, gum diseases, infection, trauma, and more.

It’s a natural process within the mouth and unfortunately, it affects the bone in your jaw. While you might not notice it in any of your day-to-day activities, it means there isn’t enough bone for an implant.

jaw and teeth in human body illustration

How is the Bone Measured?

Prior to scheduling dental implants, dentists will typically go through a consultation process with the patient. This should consist of an exam, discussion of the process, and x-rays or images. The x-rays and 3D images allow your provider to see the bone and determine how much bone is there and whether or not it is sufficient.

They can see all the dynamics of your mouth and your jaw and then make an educated decision about the process or whether or not you would be a good fit. From here, the dentist can decide if you are a candidate or whether additional actions might need to be taken for you to receive implants.

In some cases, you may not be a good candidate, even with a bone graft ability. This is decided on a case-by-case basis and each dentist uses specific criteria to make a decision.

Final Thoughts

People prefer dental implants to dentures or crowns, but getting dental implants is a procedure that needs to be taken seriously. If the situation is not right for the procedure, then it may fail. When the dentist says you don’t have enough bone, they are doing everything in their power to make sure your dental implants will be successful.

Take note that if this is the case, you do have options. Bone grafting might require additional time, but it could be the solution to make dental implants work for you. Work with your dental provider to determine the best solution.

Ready for a confident, healthy smile?

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