Healthy jawbones play a vital role in the dental implant process. The stability of the implant comes from a screw-type metal root that is inserted into the jawbone. The bone and screw are then allowed to heal until the bone fuses around the root to hold it firmly in place. Bone that is too weak, narrow, or shallow can interfere with your ability to receive a dental implant.
Bone grafts are a common method of dealing with weaker jawbones. But a graft alone isn't always enough. Here are a few advanced techniques your cosmetic dentist can use to help prepare your jawbone for dental implants.
Alveolar Nerve Repositioning
Jawbone issues can sometimes occur due to the position of other anatomical structures in the area where the root needs to be placed. One of these potential interferences is the alveolar nerve, which runs along the lower jaw. Weaker jawbones might not offer enough insulation between the nerve and the potential implant root, which means that the root would pierce the nerve if placed where expected.
Your dentist can help correct this issue with alveolar nerve repositioning. The dentist will cut a small hole in the jawbone to gain access to the nerve and move it to the side so that the nerve is no longer in the way of a future implant root. Bone graft material is then inserted into the hole to keep the nerve from simply moving right back to its original position.
A healing process will follow to allow the graft material to fuse with the existing jawbone. The combination of the moved nerve and graft material should provide you with sufficient jawbone for an implant.
While the nerve threatens to get in the way of teeth on the lower jaw, a sinus cavity threatens to get in the way of the teeth on the upper jaw. Your dentist can gain extra room in the upper jaw by performing a sinus lift.
The procedure works similarly to the nerve repositioning. Your dentist will cut a hole in the jawbone and lift the sinus cavity up and out of the way. A graft material is then packed into the area and allowed to heal.
Alveolar Ridge Augmentation
The jawbone section that is flush around the bottoms of your natural teeth is called the alveolar ridge. Decay, disease, and trauma can cause the ridge to weaken and narrow in the area where the natural tooth is missing.
Your dentist can fortify a weak alveolar ridge with an augmentation, which works as a more targeted version of a general bone graft. If the socket from your lost tooth is still evident, the graft material will be packed into that socket to build up the ridge. Otherwise, the dentist will need to recut the socket and pack in the graft material.
The dentist might also want to use a spacing device that will keep the healing gum tissue lifted slightly off the bone graft so that the graft material has the ability to heal upwards to better improve the ridge before the implant is done.
If you want to learn more about how cosmetic dentistry can improve your smile, talk over your options with a professional in your area soon.