Obviously, this is a big deal. But does it apply to you? Asking a few simple questions will give you a good idea.
Did You Have Gum Disease?
About half of all American adults have some level of gum disease, but just having a little gum disease isn’t that important for your dental implants. What really makes the difference is if you had gum disease that removed a significant amount of the supporting bone for your teeth. Here are some signs that you actually had that kind of gum disease:
- Your tooth got loose
- Your tooth seemed to get longer
- You saw a part of the tooth that looked yellowish and rough (the tooth root)
If you noticed any of these signs, then it’s likely your gum disease caused bone loss, which could in turn, mean you need a bone graft to support your dental implants.
How Long Ago Did You Lose Your Teeth?
There are two potential answers that could lead to bone grafting. First, you haven’t lost them yet. If your implants are going to be placed at the same time your teeth are being extracted, we will likely need to use what is called a socket graft because the dental implant is smaller than your natural tooth root, so it needs more material around to support it. However, this type of graft isn’t likely to add much time to your procedure.
The answer that’s really a concern is: “a long time ago.” Once your teeth are lost, your body begins removing (“resorbing”) the bone that used to support your teeth. Six months to a year after you lost a tooth or teeth, a lot of the bone is gone, which means you’re more likely to need a strong, reconstructive graft.
What Kind of Restoration Are You Getting?
Finally, we have to take into account how much force your dental implant is going to have to deal with. Of course, we have to factor in bite factors like TMJ, but more important is how well the force is going to be distributed via the restoration. If you are getting a large dental bridge or complete dentures, the force is more distributed, so the implants don’t need as much bone to absorb the force.
We can also get a little choosy about where we put the implants to support the bridge or denture, and this lets us find the perfect places that have the best bone support.
It also matters whether your dental implant is going to be implant-retained (held in place by implants) or implant-supported (the bite force gets distributed into the dental implant).
Come in for a Consultation
These questions give you a basic starting point to consider this question, but there’s only one way to know for sure whether your dental implant will depend on a bone graft: a consultation with an implant dentist.