Bone loss in the jaw area is a common issue that can make dental implant placement challenging. However, with careful planning and the latest advancements in implant dentistry, dental implants can still be successfully placed even in cases of severe bone loss.
What Causes Bone Loss in the Jaws?
There are several potential causes of severe bone loss in the upper and lower jaws:
- Tooth loss – When teeth are extracted and not replaced, the jawbone no longer receives the stimulation it needs to maintain its form and density. Over time, significant atrophy can occur.
- Periodontal disease – Chronic bacterial infections in the gums and bone can lead to inflammation, destruction of tooth-supporting tissues, and progressive loss of alveolar bone.
- Trauma/injury – An impact or blow to the face can fracture portions of the jawbone or displace teeth, directly destroying bone.
- Long-term denture wear – The pressure and rubbing of dentures over many years gradually causes the bone to resorb.
- Other medical conditions – Radiation treatment, autoimmune disorders, osteoporosis, etc. can also contribute to decreased bone volume.
How Bone Loss Affects Dental Implant Treatment
Dental implants rely on the jawbone for support and retention. During placement, the implant screw is inserted into the bone like a artificial tooth root. So adequate bone volume and density are required.
With substantial bone loss, there may simply not be enough bone structure left at the site for the implant to integrate with. Even if placement is physically possible, the long term prognosis may be poor if the implant is left unsupported by a deficient bone foundation.
State-of-the-Art Solutions for Bone Loss Cases
Thankfully, modern oral surgery offers advanced techniques that can facilitate dental implant treatment even in patients with extreme bone deficiencies. The two main interventions used are:
Zygomatic implants are anchors placed into the zygomatic bone (cheekbone) rather than the upper jawbone. They were originally developed to treat those with severely resorbed maxillas that were previously not candidates for fixed bridges or implants. With angles of up to 60 degrees, zygomatic implants can avoid grafting and effectively use the dense zygoma bone for support.
Bone Grafting Procedures
A bone graft essentially regenerates lost bone to allow conventional dental implants to integrate optimally. This involves transplanting bone from elsewhere in the patient’s body or using bone substitute materials to bolster the thinning jaw regions. After healing, the heightened bone volume can accommodate regular implants.
Success Rates: Dental Implants with Bone Loss
Multiple research studies have shown excellent long-term success rates for dental implants placed in those with severely deficient bone:
- Zygomatic Implants – Success rates of 94-100% over 10+ years (study 1, study 2)
- Bone Grafts + Implants – Success rates around 95% over 5+ years (study)
These positive results demonstrate that with the appropriate advanced techniques guided by imaging and planning, dental implants can be provided successfully even in cases involving substantial bone loss.
Conclusion: Don’t Let Bone Loss Deter You
Bone loss whether from tooth loss, injury, or disease can be devastating if it prevents dental implant treatment. However, today’s oral surgeons have an array of sophisticated interventions at their disposal such as zygomatic implants and bone grafts that can regenerate bone to allow for successful implant integration. With meticulous planning, even those with severe jawbone deficiencies can benefit from fixed implant teeth replacement. So do not let bone loss deter you – dental implants are still within reach. Consult with a highly skilled implant specialist for an evaluation.