Replacing Bone For Dental Implants

As you get older, you could be one of the Americans with gum disease, because over half of all adults have gum disease. When it is in its early stages gum disease is reversible and does not have to lead to more serious complications. Without treatment, gum disease will progress to gingivitis and then periodontitis. As the bacteria and plaque build along the gum line of the teeth, it leads to inflammation of the gums and then gaps between the gums and the teeth. The gaps in the gum tissue allow for more space for the bacteria to grow and damage the gum tissue. When the bacteria moves from the gums into the tooth and the jaw bone, then you can start to lose bone tissue.

After your periodontitis has led to bone loss, the bone will no longer be strong enough to hold your teeth in place and your teeth may start to loosen. The dentist or a gum disease specialist called a periodontist may have a few different treatment options for you to improve your oral health. One of the options could include a bone graft. This process will help you grow new bone tissue in the place where you lost it due to periodontitis.

Gum disease and bone loss

Most people know that gum disease is something to avoid and that regular dental appointments will help treat and prevent it. But beyond tooth decay and gum damage, serious gum disease can lead to bone loss in your mouth and jaw. The chronic bacterial infection in the gums near the teeth can grow to affect the bone tissue as well. Without a strong dental hygiene routine at home and regular twice yearly dental exams and cleanings, the bacteria will continue to grow without interruption. The infection in the gums near your teeth can cause your gums to swell, feel tender, and be inflamed. You may notice that your gums bleed more easily when you are in this stage of gum disease.

After the gingivitis stage of gum disease it increases to periodontitis where the problems are more serious and more likely to lead to permanent damage. The bacterial infection releases toxins in the gums, allowing the infection to reach a deeper layer in the tissue. The breakdown of the bone tissue and connective tissue that holds your teeth in place allows for your teeth to loosen and fall out. This level of serious gum disease is the most common reason that adults lose their teeth. Periodontal surgery and procedures are available to help treat and even reverse some of the damage. One of the options includes bone grafts.

Symptoms of Gum Disease:

  • Sensitive teeth
  • Swollen and red gums
  • Bleeding gums
  • Pain when chewing
  • Persistent bad breath
  • Loose teeth

Bone grafts and gum disease

In order for the dentist to reverse bone loss that resulted from your periodontitis, the dentist may suggest placing a bone graft to help regrow bone tissue. The procedure usually takes place during a periodontal appointment when the specialist fold back part of the affected gums. The dentist will use this opportunity to clean away any infected tissue, remove bacteria, and clean off any calculus or plaque build up remaining on the tooth surfaces. After it is cleaned and prepared, the dentist will place the bone graft so the bone tissue will regenerate in the damaged spot. The bone graft procedure can be completed as a way to prevent you from losing teeth or as a way to prepare your mouth for a dental implant.

Once you have already lost a tooth due to periodontitis, the dentist can use a dental implant as a way to replace your missing tooth and restore your mouth. In order for the dental implant to remain in place and support the dental crown, the implant is placed into the jaw bone. The implant supporting place on the jaw bone must be dense enough and strong enough before the implant is placed. If you lost your tooth due to bone loss, then the likelihood that the bone is not strong enough for an implant is high. The dentist has a number of different types of bone grafts to choose from to best suit your needs. After a few months of healing from your bone graft surgery, then the dentist can move towards placing the dental implant.

Types of bone grafts

Bone graft procedures vary depending on the type of material used in the graft. The options are:

  • Autograft - your own bone tissue, usually from your hip or the back of your jaw
  • Allograft - bone from another person
  • Xenograft - bone from another organism like a cow
  • Alloplast - bone from synthetic material that contains minerals like calcium, phosphorous, and hydroxylapatite.

The dentist will be able to help you choose the best material for your bone graft based on your health, your bone graft needs, and your medical history.

Tissue regeneration and gum disease

After the bone is healthy enough to support the dental implant, the dentist will need to ensure that the surrounding tissue is healthy enough to ensure long term success of your dental implant procedure. The dentist may use membranes or mesh filters to help your body regrow the bone. Tissue-stimulating growth factor proteins are also helpful in regenerating bone and tissue. A procedure called Guided Tissue Regeneration (GTR) uses a small membrane to separate the gums and the bone tissue. The bone is able to grow into its new space and the mesh keeps the tissue from growing where the bone is meant to grow. More and more techniques are being developed to help people heal and improve their oral health after periodontitis treatment. Combinations of these different tools have been used with success for people looking to replace missing teeth with dental implants.

Preventing bone loss from gum disease

The best way to avoid needing a bone graft due to periodontitis is to prevent gum disease from advancing without treatment. Take the time each day to brush and floss your teeth. Use an oral rinse to remove any remaining bacteria or debris. Keep your twice yearly dental appointments for exams and cleanings.

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