Dental implant placement continues to increase each year substantially. Most experts believe this trend will continue to rise in the next several years. Although more people have learned about dental implants and chosen them because of their many benefits, some questions remain.
One of the common questions is, how long do implants last? The answer to this question lies in a word with which you may not be familiar. Continue reading to learn more about dental implants and the key to their success.
What Is Bone?
The more than two hundred bones in your body are easy to take for granted. Unfortunately, bones typically do not receive our attention until one is broken or become diseased. However, bones have many vital functions, which include:
- Helping you move. Your leg bones allow you to walk, and your lower jaw moves to allow you to chew food and speak.
- Keeping you breathing. Bone makes the cells that move oxygen from your lungs to all your body tissues. These same cells then take the waste product, carbon dioxide, back to your lungs to be expelled. Bone also makes the critical white blood cells that help fight infection.
- Protecting other body parts. Ribs protect vital organs such as the heart and lungs while your skull protects your brain. The bone in your jaws protects your teeth by keeping them firmly in place while chewing foods of various textures.
We tend to think of bones as being hard and solid. Although they are very hard due to their hard outer layer, their inner core is spongy and less dense. This inner layer of bone contains bone marrow which produces the cells mentioned above and stem cells that can repair damaged bone.
Why Is Jawbone Important?
Your teeth and jaws need each other to maintain their health. Bone in your jaws provides the necessary support and stability that allow teeth to chew properly. Although bone and teeth have similarities, a difference is bone’s potential for constant remodeling. Long after bones stop growing to make you taller, they continue a process that involves specific cells dissolving old bone and other cells forming new bone. As a result, about every ten years, most of the bone in your body has been replaced with new bone.
When we are healthy, our bodies can maintain the optimal balance between the loss and formation of bone. However, any imbalance can create undesirable consequences. An imbalance such as this occurs when a tooth is extracted.
The health of your jawbone depends on your teeth. When you chew, the pressure placed on your teeth stimulates the cells in the jaw to produce new bone to support the teeth. When the tooth is removed, however, this stimulation stops, and new bone is not formed. Several factors affect how quickly bone is lost after tooth removal, but it typically begins several weeks after extraction.
What Is Dental Bone Grafting?
Dental bone grafting is a common procedure used to build new bone that has been lost after tooth extraction. It is helpful for people who desire to take advantage of the predictable success, superior esthetics, and natural-feeling function of implants but have an inadequate bone density to retain the implant. Bone grafting may solve this problem and enhances the long-term success of an implant.
Bone grafting techniques continue to evolve as newer methods and materials improve that benefit bone tissue’s ability to regenerate. After graft placement, the surrounding natural bone grows and replaces the graft material. The result is a fully integrated area of new bone.
Grafts are typically classified according to the source of the graft material. The four major classifications are:
- Autograft. This graft removes bone from the patient to be placed at the graft site. Typical donor sites include the chin, palate, and behind the lower jaw. In some cases, bone from the hip or shin might be used. The autograft reduces the risk of graft rejection since the bone is used from the same patient receiving the bone augmentation.
- Allograft. When the bone’s donor is another human, not the graft recipient, it is known as an allograft. The donated bone usually is sourced from a bone bank. Freeze-dried bone is a common graft material for allografts.
- Xenograft. Another option is using bovine or porcine materials. These bone grafts use these materials as a matrix or scaffold upon which the new bone grows.
- Alloplast. These grafts use synthetic materials or those made from natural materials such as hydroxyapatite, the main mineral found in bone.
What Is Osseointegration?
Osseointegration may be an unfamiliar word, but it is an important word. Osseointegration is the determining factor for implant success and is the chief reason for having a bone graft. This is the process in which the bone fuses with the implant. After it occurs, the implant is essentially a part of your jawbone, similar to a natural tooth’s root. Without osseointegration, the implant is never stable and secure enough to function and ultimately fails.
One of the significant advancements in dentistry in the past thirty years has been the ability to achieve excellent osseointegration for the long-term retention of dental implants. This has been aided by improved grafting procedures that help provide adequate new bone formation and surrounding blood supply.
Who Needs Dental Bone Grafting Before An Implant?
Many patients receive dental implants without bone grafting. Patients who typically require bone grafting before implant placement have lost bone due to reasons such as:
- Advanced periodontal disease.
- Severe tooth decay.
- Facial trauma.
- Cyst or tumor removal
- Developmental defect.
Can I Get A Dental Implant Years After A Tooth Extraction?
If you have been missing one or more teeth for several years, you may think it is too late to get an implant. Although you may have lost considerable bone by now, this problem can likely be remedied with a bone grafting procedure. This will increase the total time of receiving an implant. Still, most patients express a high degree of satisfaction with their implants.
Schedule an Appointment
Palmetto Dental Arts provide implants that replace missing teeth with a natural-feeling alternative to other procedures. To help ensure that you enjoy your implant for a lifetime, we ensure you have the adequate supporting bone necessary for implant success. Contact us online or call us to learn more about a safe and comfortable bone grafting procedure.