Authorities estimate that 178 million people in the United States today are missing at least one tooth. In addition to the cosmetic problems missing teeth present, a missing tooth can lead to bone loss and difficulty eating properly. Fortunately, if you are missing a tooth your dentist can replace it with a dental implant.
While the procedure is fairly straightforward, your dentist needs access to enough bone to anchor the implant. Here are two types of bone augmentation you might need to make you a suitable candidate for an implant in the future.
1. Bone Grafts
Typically used to prevent the collapse of soft tissue into an empty socket when a tooth must be removed due to decay, bone grafts are among the easiest types of bone augmentation to complete.
Your dentist will place organic mineral materials harvested from bovine bones into the socket once the tooth is removed. This material acts as a biological placeholder, allowing your body to heal around it. Eventually, the bone graft fuses with your own natural bone, forming a strong base into which your dentist can implant a new dental prosthetic. These bone grafts are commonly referred to as xenografts, and they can be completed in your dentist's office.
2. Sinus Lift
If you are missing upper molars, these teeth can be difficult to replace. Without the teeth to occupy space, your sinus cavity can expand. This is especially true if your molar roots protrude into you sinus cavities. When these teeth are lost, and the cavity expands, your dentist will not have enough bone left to anchor the dental implant properly. Fortunately, a procedure known as a sinus lift can remedy the situation.
During a sinus lift an oral surgeon will manipulate the sinus membrane upward, creating space to place bone graft material. As the bone graft hardens, the sinus membrane stays lifted and enough new bone is formed to anchor your dental implant. Since a sinus lift can be invasive, a periodontist will likely need to complete the procedure in a surgical setting. Several months of healing are then required before your new dental implant can be placed.
Living with missing teeth can be difficult. If you want to take advantage of the benefits that dental implants provide, it is important that you prepare yourself for the possibility that you will need a bone augmentation first. Bone grafts and sinus lifts play an important role in ensuring the stability of your dental implant.
Learn more about your options by consulting resources such as Peter J. Kaufman, DMD.