Jawbone deterioration is a widespread dental health problem that can occur due to a number of underlying issues. People who are considering dental implants for lost teeth should take the time to learn about the implications of jawbone loss. This guide will explain how dental implants and jawbone loss are related.
What Causes Jawbone Loss?
There is a common misconception that jawbone deterioration is an inevitable effect of aging. In reality, bone loss is more common in older adults because of the emergence of other health conditions that affect the teeth. For example, dry mouth can increase the risk of periodontal disease, which in turn can cause jawbone deterioration.
Bone loss can occur due to tooth extraction or dental trauma that leads to the loss of a tooth. The roots of the teeth stimulate the jawbone as you chew to promote cell regeneration. When a tooth is lost, this stimulation is also lost, and the jawbone may begin to deteriorate beneath the dental socket.
How Does Jawbone Loss Affect Dental Implants?
Dental implants are held in place by titanium screws in the jawbone. For implant treatment to be successful, there must be enough bone tissue density in the jaw to form a strong and permanent bond. When significant bone loss has occurred, traditional dental implant treatment may not be possible or may require an extra step.
What Implant Options are Available for Patients With Jawbone Loss?
Bone grafting is the most reliable method to make standard dental implants viable for dental patients with jawbone deterioration. An oral surgeon uses the patient's bone tissue from another site to build up the jawbone and support the new implant.
Zygomatic implants are a newer alternative for patients who are experiencing upper jawbone loss. These implants do not require a secondary surgical procedure, unlike bone grafting. Zygomatic implants are longer than standard implants and are anchored in the zygomatic bones, or cheekbones, rather than the upper jaw.
Can Dental Implants Prevent Jawbone Loss?
Unlike other forms of tooth replacement, dental implants restore the jawbone stimulation that is lost when a tooth is missing. Implants fuse directly with the jawbone and can reverse the effects of jawbone resorption. Patients with dental implants are at less risk of additional tooth loss and changes in facial structure caused by jawbone loss.
As you can see, jawbone health has a significant impact on dental implant treatment. If you're worried that your jawbone isn't strong enough to support dental implants, talk with your dentist so they can determine the best course of treatment for your teeth.