If you have lived with dentures for many years or had severe gum disease that contributed to tooth and bone loss, chances are a dentist may have said you had too much bone loss to support dental implants. While that used to be the case, advancements in dental implant dentistry have made it possible for many people to have successful dental implants despite the bone loss. At New Leaf Rohnert Park, our team of dental professionals is here to answer your implant questions and help you achieve a beautiful and permanent smile that you can be proud of.


Why is bone mass important?

A dental implant is designed to replicate a natural tooth, including the root. In the case of an implant, the root is the titanium post. This post is placed into the jawbone and helps stimulate bone growth in order to fuse the jaw to the post. This process is called osseointegration and provides the strength the implant needs to become a permanent replacement. Unfortunately, if you have significant bone loss in the jaw, there is often not enough bone remaining to hold the implant in place until osseointegration occurs. This can then lead to implant failure.


What causes bone loss?

While your teeth help you eat and give you your beautiful smile, they are also essential for your facial bone density. When you lose a tooth, bone density declines because the root is no longer stimulating the bone. In fact, you can lose as much as 25% of your jaw’s width within the first year of tooth loss.

Bone loss can also occur even if you haven’t lost a tooth yet. Untreated periodontitis, or gum disease, can damage and destroy the bone in your jaw, causing teeth to become loose and fall out. When this occurs, chances are the bone loss is too extreme to support dental implants.


Signs of bone density loss

When you experience a loss of jawbone density, you will see changes in your appearance as the bone density decreases. If you still have natural teeth, you may notice they are shifting or becoming loose. You may also experience discomfort when chewing as your bite may be changing. Other signs include:

  • Changes in your facial structure
  • Wrinkles forming around your mouth
  • Lips sinking inward
  • Headaches, facial pain, and jaw pain
  • Changes or difficulty with speech
  • Changes in the fit of your dentures


Can you rebuild bone density?

The good news is bone density loss doesn’t mean you can’t have successful dental implants. Advancements in oral surgery can now help you rebuild and grow new bone in your jaw that will support dental implants. Bone grafts take a piece of bone from another area of the body and transplant it into the jaw, giving it time to fuse and stimulate additional bone growth. Later on, the new bone will be strong enough to support dental implants.


Different types of bone grafts

The type of bone graft you need will depend on the level of bone loss, whether you have just recently lost a tooth, the predominant location of your bone loss, and planned dental implants. There are three main types of dental bones grafts.


1. Socket preservation

Socket preservation is a bone grafting procedure that occurs when the dentist removes a tooth. After extraction, the bone graft material is packed into the empty tooth socket, where it slows the loss of bone and helps preserve bone structure until an implant can be placed.


2. Sinus lifts

A sinus lift, known as a sinus augmentation, treats bone loss in the upper jaw near your sinus cavity. This procedure involves lifting the sinus cavity and placing bone grafting material in order to help restore natural bone height and strength.


3. Ridge augmentation

When you have extensive bone loss along the entire jaw ridge, ridge augmentation is the bone grafting procedure you will need. This procedure aims to restore the natural contour of your gums and jaw, giving you the bone support your jaw needs for dental implants. It uses bone and tissue grafting to fill indented areas of the jaw, restoring your natural jawbone structure.


Can you have too much bone loss for dental implants?

If you are a candidate for a dental implant but have low bone dentistry, a bone graft may be an option for you. While not everyone is a candidate for bone grafts, the New Leaf Rohnert Park team will work with you and evaluate your dental needs to see if a bone graft is your ticket to dental implants and a new permanent smile. Contact us online today or call the office at (707) 586-1549 to schedule an appointment.