When you lose a permanent tooth, whether to injury or disease, replacing it as soon as possible is essential to your oral health because the open space can lead to shifting teeth, bite problems, gum disease, and bone loss.
You have the option of closing the gap with dentures or a bridge, but the gold standard is a dental implant.
Dental implants look and feel more natural than any other restoration treatment, they function more efficiently, and they stimulate the tissues in your jawbone so they can continually renew and build new bone material.
But in many cases, the jawbone isn’t quite ready to receive a dental implant. If your jawbone is too weak or insufficient to anchor an implant, we may need to perform a bone graft first.
At St. Tammany Periodontics & Implants in Covington and Slidell, Louisiana, Dr. Caesar Sweidan and our team of dental implant experts specialize in this oral-health-saving procedure.
If you have a missing tooth or are scheduled for an extraction, we can restore your smile and your ability to chew and speak with ease with a bone graft and a dental implant.
How tooth loss leads to bone loss
In addition to completing your smile, the main reason to consider a dental implant after losing a tooth is to prevent bone loss — in particular, your alveolar bone.
The alveolar bone provides the foundation for your teeth, and it relies on pressure from normal chewing and biting every day to stimulate new growth. A missing tooth leaves more than just a visual gap; it also creates a void of bone-stimulating pressure, so that part of your jawbone begins to waste away or atrophy.
How bone grafting solves the problem
Because a dental implant requires healthy bone tissue to bond together and form a stronghold — a process called osseointegration — we may need to shore up your jawbone before we can place the dental implant.
Bone grafting is simply a way to rebuild and repair your weak jawbone by adding tissue. This is a surgical transplant procedure that uses healthy bone tissue from your own jaw or a synthetic material.
Types of bone grafts
Depending on the location of your lost tooth and the severity of the damage, Dr. Sweidan may recommend any of several types of bone grafts to prepare your jawbone for a dental implant. Here are four of the most common types of bone grafts.
If you’re about to get a tooth extracted, a socket graft preserves the socket so you can get a dental implant later. This prevents bone loss in your jaw and maintains the natural dimensions of the socket, so we can place a dental implant when you’re ready.
Block bone graft
If you have extensive jawbone damage or deterioration, we may need to perform a block bone graft to repair the large defect. We typically take a small piece of bone from the back of your jaw and secure it in place with a titanium screw.
Lateral ridge augmentation graft
If you’ve been missing a tooth for a while, chances are the bone has shrunk and thinned out, leaving no structure in place for a dental implant. Dr. Sweidan can create a new foundation with a lateral ridge augmentation graft that increases the volume and width of your jawbone in that area.
When you lose any of your upper back teeth, you may encounter a secondary problem — sinus collapse. Your sinuses are located just above those back teeth, so without their support, your sinuses can drop down, and a dental implant could easily penetrate those vital membranes.
To prevent that, Dr. Sweidan performs a sinus lift to raise the sinuses back into their original position by placing a bone graft underneath them.
These are just a few of the many types of bone grafts, but regardless of which type is right for you, we need to wait for your graft to bond with your bone and form a solid foundation for your dental implant, which takes 4-12 months.
To find out if you need a bone graft to preserve your socket or prep for a dental implant, call our friendly staff at St. Tammany Periodontics & Implants to schedule an appointment with Dr. Sweidan.