Yes, you can get dental implants with bone loss. This is actually a common problem for many people who have struggled with their deteriorating oral health throughout the years.
It's true that dental implants require a certain amount of bone density and stability to be placed. But, when you go for a long time with missing teeth, the bone structure around where your teeth used to be begins to weaken and deteriorate.
The good news is that there are solutions for this, including bone grafts, and mini dental implants, which require less bone for placement.
In this article, we'll talk about solutions for getting dental implants if you've had bone loss, including:
- Getting implants with severe bone loss
- Implants with and without a bone graft
- The best types of implants for bone loss
We hope this information helps you find the best way to replace your missing teeth — even if you've suffered bone loss.
Table of contents
Missing teeth and jaw bone loss
According to the American Academy of Implant Dentistry, 25% of bone loss happens in the first three months of having missing teeth, and 50% of it happens in the first six months — so it's a pretty quick process.
But how does this bone loss happen?
The roots of your teeth don't just keep your teeth in place, but they also stimulate your jawbone and keep it sturdy. If you lose a tooth, your jaw loses that access to the constant nourishment from the root and begins to shrink away.
You won't really feel this happening, but you'll start to notice it in changes in your face. Bone loss can cause a pretty drastic increase in facial wrinkles, especially around the mouth. It also causes the cheeks to collapse inwards.
But it's not just the bone around your empty socket that is affected. The adjacent teeth then become at a higher risk for decay, and there's also a higher risk for gum disease because when there is less bone the gums begin to pull away from the teeth, creating pockets that harbor food particles and bacteria.
If that's not enough to motivate you to replace your teeth, check out the rest of the consequences of missing teeth:
- Drifting teeth can mess up your smile
- Bite alignment issues can develop
- You may experience more difficulty chewing
- Your appearance may look aged beyond your years
Can you get dental implants if you have bone loss?
Yes, you can get dental implants with bone loss. In fact, you should get dental implants for multiple reasons. For one, they will prevent more bone loss from happening.
And during the process of getting dental implants, you'll likely undergo solutions to restore some of the bone loss that has happened, which will also help improve your oral and overall health.
There are various solutions for getting implants and bone loss, including:
- Bone grafts
- Sinus lifts
- Creation of new bone
- Ridge expansion
- Mini dental implants
- Zygomatic dental implants
Below we'll take a close look at each of these options.
Dental implants with bone loss solutions
Let's dive in and learn more about solutions for getting dental implants even if you've had bone loss.
Bone grafts help restore the strength of your jawbone by taking bone from another source and inserting it into your jaw. That other source can be bone from your own body. It can come from another person, or it can be made from hydroxyapatite or calcium carbonate which are naturally occurring minerals.
A sinus lift is another common procedure for people who want dental implants but have experienced bone loss. This surgical procedure is used to graft bone to the upper jaw.
But before this can be done in some cases, room needs to be made for the additional bone. This room is made by lifting your maxillary sinus membrane upwards.
Find out more about this procedure in our guide to sinus lifts.
Creating new bone
This is more officially known as ‘distraction osteogenesis.' It's the process of forming new bone. The dentist cuts a part of the jawbone and then places a titanium device in the split. Little by little, the dentist expands the device, growing the jawbone over time.
This process has less to do with jawbone density and instead addresses the problem of jawbone width and surface area. It also uses a bone graft to increase the surface area.
Mini dental implants
Mini dental implants are just like normal dental implants, except, as the name implies, they are smaller. The benefit of their smaller size is that the smaller implant posts require less jawbone density and less jawbone surface area.
It's also a less invasive procedure with faster recovery, and in many cases, no bone grafts are needed.
These aren't the perfect solution for everyone, however, because with mini dental implants you still may experience marginal bone loss.
You can find out more about mini implants in our guide.
Zygomatic dental implants
This type of implant is inserted in a different place in the jaw than implants typically are, and they don't require bone grafts before placement. These implants are placed in the zygoma facial region, hence the name, which is also known as the cheekbone.
Cheekbones don't lose their density, even as the jawbone does. Zygomatic implants can only be used in the upper jaw.
Can you have dental implants with severe bone loss?
Yes, you can still get dental implants, even with severe bone loss, like the kind that comes with osteoporosis. You will most likely need a bone graft in this case. Another option is the zygomatic implants we mentioned above.
Since these are implanted into the cheekbone which isn't affected by bone loss when you are missing teeth, they don't present the same problem as regular implants.
While there are solutions to getting implants even if you've experienced bone loss, in some cases, it might just be too late for dental implants. In this case, there are other options you can discuss with your dentist.
Good news! You can still get dental implants, even if you've experienced bone loss. In fact, most people with missing teeth will have experienced bone loss to varying degrees.
If you have a deteriorated jawbone, many of your options involve procedures that stabilize or strengthen the jawbone before implant insertion, such as bone grafts, sinus lifts, and ridge expansion.
Other options include different types of implants like mini dental implants or zygomatic implants.
Your treatment will begin in the dentist's office, where during a consultation you can work together to find the best treatment to replace your missing teeth.
We also have a guide that answers the question can you have dental implants with receding gums — you'll see that there are solutions, even if you have lived for a while with periodontitis.
Can you still get implants with bone loss?
Yes, you can still get dental implants with bone loss. You may need a bone graft or a sinus lift, or an alternative type of dental implant. Your dentist will help you find the best solution.
How do they treat bone loss with dental implants?
Dental implants can help stop bone loss from happening in your jaw. Natural teeth roots nourish and harden the surrounding bone, and implants can have the same or similar effect.
AAID: How Missing Teeth Affect Your Face and Jawbone. Consulted 16th May 2022.