Missing teeth can be anything from a minor inconvenience to a major obstacle in life, affecting the way we use our teeth, and how we feel about using them in public. Many patients with gaps in their smile go out of their way to avoid drawing attention to their mouths, hiding them behind their hands, refusing to smile with an open mouth or in some cases, even eat in the company of others. Dental implants are the most modern, innovative and successful solution that can address single or multiple tooth loss.
However, for any dental implant procedure to be successful, the patient must have strong, healthy bone in their jaw and gum tissue. This is because it is the bone and gum that help to keep the dental implant in the correct position.
When an implant post is placed, it is inserted into the jaw bone via the gums. Damaging the bone by drilling into it actually encourages new growth, and the bone will regenerate around the implant post, encasing it securely inside. This process is known as osseointegration. The gums also surround the post, helping to keep it in place.
The risk periodontal disease poses to dental implants
The problem arises when either the gums or jaw bone are compromised. This most often occurs as a result of periodontal disease. Also known by other names such as gingivitis, gum disease and periodontitis, periodontal disease is a condition characterized by the invasion of plaque from the teeth into the gums.
The initial symptoms of periodontal disease – including red, swollen and slightly bleeding gums - are fairly mild and easy to ignore. However, if left untreated, the condition can cause serious problems including gum recession and deterioration of the jaw bone, the two primary factors taken into account for candidacy for dental implants. For this reason, patients with moderate to severe periodontal disease are often considered to be poor candidates for dental implants.
Nevertheless, there are two solutions which can enable patients who have insufficient healthy bone and gum tissue to enjoy the benefits of dental implants. These are two procedures known as bone grafting and gum grafting.
What is bone grafting?
Bone grafting is the name given to the process of removing bone from another part of the body, usually the hip, or a special, artificial bone grafting material and attaching it to the diminished area of your jaw bone. The graft will encourage the growth of new bone that, after around 3-6 months, will be strong and healthy enough to support dental implants. During this time, our dental implant dentist will closely monitor the rate at which your jaw bone regenerates so that you can undergo dental implant surgery as soon as possible.
What is gum grafting?
Gum grafting, much like bone grafting, refers to a procedure that sees soft tissue taken from another area of the mouth, usually the palate, and attached to the gums. This is done with the purpose of covering any exposed roots and restoring the natural gum line, thus enabling the gums to adequately support the dental implant post. Again, it can take anything from a few weeks to a few months for the gum grafts to heal and our dental implant dentist will monitor your recovery to ensure that you can push ahead with your procedure as soon as your gums are strong enough.
If you would like further information about bone and gum grafting, our dedicated and professional team would be delighted to answer your queries or schedule you a confidential consultation with our dental implant specialist, Dr. Jayson Haws. Please telephone our offices today.