The most common cause of weakening or resorption of the jaw bone’s width and height is tooth loss which can happen from caries, gum disease, infection, pathology, or trauma. This bone loss is accelerated in those who wear dentures. When a tooth is extracted, the supporting bone undergoes significant remodeling and shrinkage leading to bony defects that can affect patient’s chewing capability, smile, and appearance. However, this is entirely preventable!
One approach to prevent bone loss is the replacement of missing teeth with dental implants, these stop further jawbone loss and deterioration as they bond and hold the jaw bone. They are made of biologically compatible “bone-friendly” titanium that naturally heals and integrates with the surrounding tissues. The body thinks the implant is a tooth, and bone will grow around and bond to the new metal “root.” This fusion of bone to titanium is even stronger than the original root. Because titanium is accepted so well by the human body, it is widely used for orthopedic implants, such as hip and knee replacements.
Dental implants can also save you from losing more teeth with the added benefit that they look and feel just like your natural teeth. Furthermore, dental implants are the wisest investment for your pocket and most importantly for your health as they may last a lifetime with a 95% – 99% success rate, compared to crowns and bridges which have only a few years lifespan.
The second approach in prevention of bone loss is bone grafting at time of tooth extraction to preserve and augment the jaw bone. In most circumstances, calcified bone particulate materials can be used for grafting, hence no need to get bone from the patient. Also, for those patients who prefer to use their own bone, we can now easily and conservatively obtain bone from the wisdom teeth area. Such bone grafts heal over four to six months and become live and viable support structures perfectly suited for implant placement.
With dental implants and bone grafting techniques, we can predictably preserve the jaw bone, replace missing teeth, and keep patients eating, smiling, and living healthy happy lives.