Denture Stabilisation & Bone Grafting

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To many people the fact that you can lose jawbone after tooth loss is a surprise, but in truth our bones are actually dynamic structures which can regain and lose density depending on how often they are used and stimulated. Bone that is regularly exposed to stress undergoes microscopic fractures that are repaired and trigger a process by which more bone is used to make the damaged site stronger and more robust. Bones can become incredibly strong through this mechanism, and athletes in many disciplines across the world take advantage of the phenomenon to improve their performance.

Unfortunately an opposite mechanism can be triggered when a bone is lacking stimulation. The body perceives this as a lack of use and begins to harvest bone from unstimulated sites for use elsewhere. Our bodies are extremely utilitarian, making use of resources as efficiently as possible, and this is a great example of how this mechanism can sometimes work against us.

So what does this have to do with our teeth you ask? Well our jawbones are maintained by our teeth and their constant use. Teeth are linked to the jawbone through their roots, and when we bite and chew the forces our teeth endure are transmitted to the bone beneath. This has two important roles, the first is the provision of structural stability which allows our teeth to survive year upon year of constant se, and the second is that it signals to the body that the jawbone is being used and that there is no need for bone to be resorbed.

When we lose a tooth or multiple teeth, the lack of stimulus triggers the body’s cannibalistic processes which ultimately result in the resorption of jawbone, leading to reduced density over time. If more teeth are missing then there is increased resorption as there is even less stimulation of the jawbone underneath.

Jawbone and the stabilising effect of dental implants

As mentioned briefly in the introduction to this article, dental implants mimic roots to stabilise artificial teeth, working to distribute chewing forces throughout the jaw. Vital to this is naturally a strong linkage between dental implants and the jawbone, which is achieved by surgically placing implants within sockets in the jawbone to fuse over a healing period of several weeks or months.

This process is absolutely critical to the success of dental implants, and relies on a number of factors including the amount of bone available for fusion and its quality. A person who has lost extensive amounts of jawbone may not be able to support the multiple implants that are sometimes needed, and this in turn would mean that the overall implant provision would not provide the stability it is designed to achieve.

This is why if you are looking to have implants a dentist will assess whether or not you have enough bone for certain implant procedures. In cases where there is extensive bone loss it may not be worth pursuing what is an expensive and protracted procedure.

Fortunately there are specific forms of implant technology which are geared towards people who have lost some bone density in their jaws, so the option may still be open. All-on-4 implants require only 4 sites for implant insertion, meaning that dramatically less bone is needed to support the implants. This is compared to as many as 8 or even 10 sites required by certain dental implants which naturally require a great deal more bone.

Despite using fewer implants, all-on-4s still retain much of the stability and strength for which implants are sought. These titanium inserts are just angled and designed to make the most of their contact with what bone is available. Having these implants can have additional benefits for a person who has lost jawbone, namely in that by having the implants placed into the jawbone those signals needed to stimulate the bone are restored. Regular use of artificial teeth fitted to implants mimics the actions of normal teeth to the extent here the body starts to restore lost bone density over time.

Every individual case is unique, and so if you are unsure about whether or not you can benefit from dental implant procedures you should consult your dentist about the option. They will be able to provide you with information about the state of your jawbone and what options are available to you from there.

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