The Truth About Your Tooth

Dental Implant Options For Patients Who Cannot Receive Bone Grafting

One of the primary factors for a successful dental implant is the strength of the bone that must support it. The bone that anchors your teeth is known as the alveolar ridge, and when a tooth is lost, the bone around the empty dental socket can undergo a decrease in density, as it no longer has to support the bite pressure experienced by the tooth. For most patients, this means bone grafting must be performed prior to implant installation. But some patients are not candidates for bone grafting. Why is this so? And does it mean you're not able to have your tooth replaced by a dental implant?

Obstacles to Bone Grafting

When someone is not a suitable candidate for bone grafting, it's generally due to a pre-existing condition that has caused a reduced level of calcium (hypocalcemia). This includes renal failure, alcohol abuse, a magnesium deficiency, a vitamin D deficiency, and even certain blood disorders, such as leukemia. Indeed, chemotherapy and other types of cancer treatment can result in hypocalcemia. Additionally, osteoporosis can compromise bone density. What are your options when bone grafting isn't possible?

Bone Mass

The cause of your reduction in bone mass must be identified. Some forms of hypocalcemia are reversible or may only be temporary. It might be judged that you should delay dental implant surgery until adequate bone mass has been restored with appropriate treatment. However, sometimes this loss of bone mass is not reversible. In this case, there are specialist dental implants that might be suitable.

Alternative Dental Implants

Traditional dental implants are titanium bolts that are installed in your jaw. Once the implant has integrated with the surrounding bone and soft tissue, its permanent prosthetic tooth can be fitted. When bone density is an obstacle and cannot be reversed with grafting or by other means, you might be a candidate for other types of implants.

  1. A blade implant is a device that is anchored by three cortical plates at its base. Its configuration makes it appropriate for implantation in an alveolar bone that might be lacking density. The implant is contained within the bone, instead of requiring an implant bore drilled into the bone.
  2. A subperiosteal implant actually sits atop your jaw bone, underneath your gum tissue, with the base of the implant designed to fit the contours of the bone beneath it. 

Both blade implants and subperiosteal implants can be more delicate than a traditional implant during the integration process. Strict follow-up appointments will be needed to assess the success and subsequent stability of the implant, and extreme caution is needed so that the implant site isn't exposed to excessive bite pressure during the integration process. 

So while you might not have the required bone density for a dental implant, nor are you able to have this density restored with bone grafting, it doesn't mean that you cannot have a tooth replaced with a dental implant.

For more information about dental implants, contact a local dentist.