Some people do not have enough healthy natural bone to support dental implants. Natural bone insufficiency can be caused by:
• Gum disease
• Tooth development defects
• Wearing dentures long term
• An injury to the face or trauma
• Spaces left empty in the mouth after teeth are removed
If you do not have enough bone what can be done?
For dental implants to be successful, there must be enough bone to support them. If the bone under your gum is not tall enough, not wide enough or both, you will need a procedure to add bone to your jaw.
Bone grafting or ‘augmentation’, is the technique used to re-build bone that has been lost from the structure of the jaw.
The Initial Assessment
At the consultation we will assess how much bone is available. This is routinely done by visual examination of the site, palpation of the boney ridge and an x-ray.
We will then refer you to have a 3D image taken (Cone Beam CT) this provides us with an accurate 3D image of your jaw. We will use this to evaluate and accurately measure the bone and can use software to ‘virtually’ position the implant; this helps us to determine whether we have the optimal amount of bone in the planned implant site.
A Typical Bone-Augmentation Procedure
Local anesthesia will be used to numb the area where the bone augmentation is needed (recipient site). An incision (cut) in the gum where the implant will be placed is made. We will then use a method called guided bone regeneration where we will mould/ adapt synthetic material in the form of granules into the bone defect and cover this with a collagen membrane and allow this to heal under the gums.
In certain situations we will recommend combining the implant placement with bone grafting and the placement of a barrier membrane all at the same time. This considerably reduces treatment time and can produce results that are difficult to achieve in any other way.
The photo below shows some bone graft material called Bio-oss and it has the appearance of coarse white granules. Bone graft material can come from several sources - human (called an allograft), animal (called a Xenograft) or mineral (called an alloplast) or best of all from utilising bone from the individual patient (called an autograft).
It is exceptionally rare for complications or failures to occur, allowing patients who present with reduced bone levels to enjoy the benefits of dental implants and be able to confidently eat, smile, laugh, talk and enjoy all of their regular activities of everyday life!