Replacing Bone For Dental Implants

After you and the dentist have determined that you are going to move forward with dental implants to replace your missing or damaged teeth, the dentist will need to ensure that your jaw bone is strong enough to support the implant. The dentist can use your dental and medical history and X-rays to review the health of your jaw bone. If you have suffered from advanced gum disease, or periodontitis, you may have lost one of your teeth as a result of the bone loss. Before the dentist can replace the missing tooth with a dental implant, the dentist may need to perform a bone graft. The bone graft will allow you to grow new bone where periodontitis destroyed the old bone.

Gum disease and bone loss

You already know that untreated gum disease can cause you to lose teeth and gum tissue, but you may not know that gum disease can cause bone loss in your jaw. The first stage and reversible stage of gum disease is gingivitis. You will have swollen gums that bleed more easily than healthy gums.

The advanced stage of gum disease called periodontitis is diagnosed when a chronic, untreated bacterial infection exists in your gums near your teeth. The bacteria and plaque move below the gumline leaving the tissue below the teeth open to infection. The inflammation damages the gum tissue and causes it to deteriorate. The inflamed gums can’t attach to the teeth properly and the teeth loosen resulting in the main reason for adults to lose teeth. The breakdown of the gum tissue and the damaged teeth, leads to damage where the jaw bone supports the tooth.

Typically, regular twice yearly dental appointments will help diagnose and treat gum disease at any stage. Some people are more susceptible the plaque causing bacteria and other people do not practice good oral hygiene habits. Bone grafts can be used to decrease the impact of periodontitis on your jaw bone. If you experience any of the following symptoms, you should reach out to the dentist for an exam: persistent halitosis, gums that bleed easily, swollen gums, loose teeth, sensitive teeth, and pain when chewing. Addressing gum disease will keep it from progressing and you may even be able to reverse it.

Gum disease and bone grafts

If you are already having periodontal surgery, the periodontist may determine that you will also need a bone graft. Grafts are used to regenerate lost bone; periodontists can improve your jawbone’s ability to support your teeth. During your periodontal surgery, the periodontist will fold back the affect gum tissue. Then the gums are cleaned out of any infected tissue. The periodontist will continue to remove any bacteria covered calculus and rough tooth surfaces to help the healthy gum tissue reattach to the tooth. The periodontist will use bone graft material to place in the newly clean and healthy area to help your body build new bone. If the bone graft is successful, then your body will be able to repair damage from severe gum disease. The bone graft may even help your mouth to support your teeth better and prevent tooth loss.

If you have already lost the tooth, the periodontist may use a bone graft to a weakened area of your jaw bone. After the bone graft, then your dental implant can be place into the stronger bone to ensure that it has the stable base it needs. The dentist will be able to determine if you need a bone graft before your implant after an exam and reviewing x-rays.

Depending on your individual case and your overall health, the bone for the bone graft may be able to be removed from your body. Bone from other areas of your jaw or your hip can be transplanted in to the area of your jaw that needs the extra support. If you are not able to provide your own bone for the graft, the periodontist can secure commercially available artificial bone. It will take your body several months to be ready for a dental implant after the bone graft, but in some mild cases, the dentist may be able to graft the bone at the same time as your dental implant. Over time your body will grow new bone to replace the graft material.

Types of bone grafts

Depending on your case, there are four different types of bones grafts used. The dentist will be able to talk with you about the advantages and disadvantages of the different materials. They vary based on the material used for your graft.


Your own bone is used for your graft and it is usually sourced from your hip bone or back of your jaw.


A human donor supplies the bone for your graft.


An animal, often a cow, donor supplies the bone for your graft.


A synthetic material containing calcium, phosphorous and hydroxylapatite is used for your graft.

Gum disease and tissue regeneration

Other than bone graft, there are other ways to stimulate your body into making more tissue. The dentist can use membranes, mesh filters, and tissue-stimulating growth factor proteins to help your body regenerate bone and gum tissue. In some cases, the dentist will combine techniques like using a bone graft with a guided tissue regeneration procedure. With this combination of treatments, the dentist will place the bone graft and then a small piece of mesh. The mesh is between the gum and the bone protecting the area reserved for new bone growth from gum tissue growing there instead. The combination of procedures continues to evolve and dentists perfect clinical techniques to repair periodontal damage. These are some of the most advanced approaches to fight the permanent effects of periodontitis but more advancements are made often to prevent tooth loss and the need for dental implants at all.

The best way to avoid the need for dental implants it to treat gum disease at its early stages. Take the time to care for your teeth at home by brushing and flossing and keep your twice yearly dental appointments.

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