For dental implants to be successful, the jawbone must have enough bone to support them. Tooth loss often leads to more loss of bone over time. The tooth loss may be caused by:
- Periodontal (gum) disease
- Dental caries (cavities) and infection
- Injury or trauma
- A defect in development
- 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 before implants can be placed.
Bone augmentation is a term that describes a variety of procedures used to “build” bone so that dental implants can be placed. These procedures typically involve grafting (adding) bone or bonelike materials to the jaw. The graft can be your own bone or be processed bone (off the shelf) obtained from a cadaver. After grafting, you have to wait several months for the grafted material to fuse with the existing bone. “Off–the-shelf” grafted materials either cause surrounding bone to grow into the graft or cause cells around the graft to change into bone. A graft from your own bone transplants bone cells or a block of bone that fuses to the jaw.
Several different procedures can be used for bone augmentation. Your dentist will select one depending on the type, location and number of implants to be used. If you need a bone graft, it is important that you and your dentist discuss all of the options available to you.
After bone augmentation, dentists usually wait four to nine months before placing implants.