Over time, everything breaks down. Our bones are no exception. As teeth are removed or fall out, the bone is no longer used, resulting in a weakened jaw and bone loss. This makes it difficult to smile, chew and do other things we often take for granted. Fortunately, with modern dental technologies, there are multiple ways to replace teeth and bone to prevent bone loss and keep mouths stronger and healthier longer.
Bone replacement procedures can be used to facilitate the replacement any number of missing teeth. There are several bone replacement procedures, including:
If you want to replace missing teeth you will need to insert dental implants. If there has already been significant bone loss, it may be necessary to have a bone graft (sometimes mistakenly called a "bone graph").
A bone graft adds bone material to the jawbone so the implant will bond to the bone and be stabilized. There are four types of bone grafts, including:
Generally, autografts are the best procedures for bone replacement because they use your own bone material, which your body recognizes and can easily transform into the bone you need.
Allografts and xenografts can also turn into natural bone, but the testing to find a match is time-consuming and doesn't always work. Alloplastic bone grafts won't necessarily replace the bone, so some people are hesitant to use it in place of the other, naturally occurring options.
Bone loss begins the moment a tooth is removed. The best way to prevent bone loss is to replace the bone and insert a dental implant immediately. Dental implants are the most effective way of preventing bone loss because they use the bones that build muscle and give the bone no chance to disintegrate.
Although bridges can also replace missing teeth, implants are a less-invasive bone replacement procedure. Bridges generally harm the neighboring teeth as they are inserted and then require the other teeth to support them, often resulting in root canals. On the other hand, implants are inserted beneath the gum line, without disturbing other teeth. Dental implants then fuse with the bone, keeping the bone strong and preventing further bone loss.
Implants are just as easy to clean as your natural teeth and are minimally invasive, meaning they don't rely on the other teeth, like natural teeth. In short, implants mimic your natural teeth in the way they look, feel and work.
However, the dental implant process can be expensive, especially if bone grafts are necessary. Just like bridges, these bone replacement techniques are not completely effective and may need to be performed more than once to find a match that works.
Amin, Ramsey A. (2006). Use of Bone Replacement in Implant Procedures. Retrieved April 11, 2008, from the Ramsey A. Amin, D.D.S Web site.
Enexus, Inc (2001). Bone Grafting. Retrieved April 11, 2008, from the World Center for Dental Implantology Web site.
Obando, Dr. Luis G. (2006). Dental Treatments. Retrieved April 12, 2008, from the Dr. Luis G. Obanda A. Web site.
Tooth Implant Centre (n.d.). Tooth Replacement With Dental Implants. Retrieved April 12, 2008, from the Dental Implant Centre Web site.
information on health-related topics, not medical advice, diagnosis or
treatment recommendations. Please consult your physician if you have questions