Bone loss occurs rapidly after tooth loss. In fact, within a year, many patients will have lost up to 25% of bone in the area of the missing tooth. And if tooth loss occurs because of gum disease, then there may be severe bone loss in the area. But even with bone loss, you shouldn't rule out dental implants.
Modern dentistry offers several alternatives to traditional implants for patients with jawbone loss.
1. Mini dental implants (One or More Teeth)
Mini dental implants are smaller in diameter than traditional ones. This means they don't need as much bone as traditional dental do. Mini dental implants are an option for you if you have lost bone width but still have sufficient bone height to support a dental implant. The procedure to place mini dental implants is faster than that of traditional implants and only requires one appointment. And the healing time for mini dental implants is shorter than that of traditional implants.
2. Bone Grafts (Traditional Implants)
If you prefer traditional dental implants, then you can opt to have bone grafts placed in your jawbone. Bone grafts come in several forms. One form of bone grafting, a horizontal bone graft, adds more bone to the jawbone ridge to increase the width of the jawbone. Another useful type of bone graft, a block graft, adds height and depth to the jawbone. Bone grafts add 2–3 months of healing time to the overall healing process of dental implants.
3. All-on-4 implants (A Whole Dental Arch)
If you are missing a lot of teeth in one or both dental arches (upper and lower arches), and you have severe bone loss, then an all-on-4 denture could be an option. An all-on-4 denture isn't like a traditional denture that is awkward and difficult to keep in place as you eat and speak. All-on-4 dentures attach to four dental implants placed strategically in the jawbone.
To begin the process, the dentist will place the implants in the areas that have the most available bone. Even if you have severe bone loss in other areas of your jawbone, just four dental implants can provide enough support for a denture that replaces an entire arch of teeth.
Don't lose hope if you have lost a substantial amount of bone due to inaction or gum disease. One of these treatments could allow you to have one or more dental implants. Speak to your dentist about these treatments. Together, you can decide what will work best for you.