Replacing Bone For Dental Implants

Whether you suffer from periodontitis or osteoporosis, your jaw bone may not be as strong as it used to be. The effects of severe gum disease can leave the bones that hold your teeth in place weaker and thinner. In these instances, the dentist or periodontist may suggest a bone graft to strengthen your bones and improve your overall oral health. These kinds of grafts are used to grow new bone that will replace the lost and weakened bone. Gum disease can lead to periodontitis when it is not treated and can require complicated procedures to reverse some of its damage.

Gum disease and bone loss

Most American adults suffer from some form of gum disease. In its early stages, it can be stopped and reversed, but when it goes untreated, the gum disease will lead to gum inflammation, gum tissue loss, bone loss, and tooth loss. The most serious stage, called periodontitis, is the stage where the bacteria that has infected the gums prevents the gums to attach to and protect the tooth and bone. The chronic and unrelenting nature of this inflammation allows for the bacteria to grow and even thrive leaving nothing but problems in its wake. Your gums will be red, swollen, bleeding, and tender. Before the gum disease advances to periodontitis, it is called gingivitis and you may experience some of these symptoms in your gums to a lesser degree.
When your brushing, flossing and rinsing do not remove the plaque and debris from the day, the plaque allows bacteria to grow. The bacteria removes the minerals in your tooth enamel, release toxins and cause the gum tissue to detach from the teeth. The small gaps allow for the bacteria to travel below the gumline and infect more gum tissue. The longer the bacteria goes without treatment, the closer it gets to the bone and causing a decay of the bone tissue as well. With the gum tissue weakened and the bone thinner, the tooth will not be held firmly in place and become loose. In adults, periodontal disease is the leading cause of tooth loss. Periodontal surgery is a treatment option for this problem and bone grafts are one of the procedures used to reverse some of the negative effects of this disease.

Symptoms of Gum Disease

If you are concerned that you may be suffering from some stage of gum disease, take time to consider if you suffer from persistent halitosis. The continual bad breath may be telling you that there is a bacteria growing and damaging tissue in your mouth. If you notice that your gums are looking swollen or they have started to bleed when you brush or floss, then your gums may be inflamed from infection. Your teeth may start to feel loose to the touch or seem to be less stable than they used to be if gum disease is starting to cause long term effects in your mouth. When your teeth are sensitive to temperature or certain acidic or sweet foods, their enamel is not as strong as it once was. Finally, if you experience pain in your mouth when you chew or bite down, then it is time to talk to the dentist about the possibility of gum disease. Be sure to resist procrastinating any longer before your next dental appointment to stop the problem before it gets worse and more costly to treat.

Bone grafts and gum disease

In the course of treatment of your advanced gum disease, the dentist may need to look to a bone graft to help support your degenerating bone. Typically a periodontist will perform this procedure during periodontal surgery as a way to regenerate bone tissue. In order to perform the bone graft, the periodontist will fold back your gum tissue to clean any infection from it and to remove any hardened plaque from the tooth surface. Once the area is clean and free from infection, the dentist can place the bone graft material to stimulate new bone growth. With the added support of the new bone, you will be less likely to lose your teeth to gum disease. If you have already lost your tooth, the dentist can use the bone graft to support your dental implant and provide a strong base. The bone graft is actually a piece of bone from a different part of your jaw or body; it could even come from an artificial bone. Before a dental implant can be placed where you had a bone graft, the area will need a few months to heal. If the bone graft was minor, the dentist may be able to perform the implant placement at the same time.

Types of bone grafts

  • Autograft – a bone graft that comes from your own body. Many times, the bone tissue for the graft comes from the hip or back of the jaw.
  • Allograft – a bone graft that comes from a human donor
  • Xenograft - a bone graft that comes from an animal donor, like a cow.
  • Alloplast - a bone graft that comes from a synthetic material. The graft is composed of calcium, phosphorous and hydroxylapatite.

Tissue regeneration and gum disease

In addition to the bone graft material, the dentist may need to place additional material to encourage and protect the new bone growth. The dentist can use membranes as a mesh filter and growth factor proteins to stimulate tissue regeneration. When the bone graft includes additional procedures, it can be referred to as guided tissue regeneration. The membrane helps keep the gum tissue from growing into the space where the bone graft is meant to grow. Bone graft procedures and materials are continually improved and refined. The goal is to help you keep your teeth healthy and in place as long as possible.

Preventing bone loss from gum disease

If you are hoping to avoid bone loss and the need for a bone graft, there are steps you can take to prevent gum disease in the first place.

  • First, be sure to brush your teeth twice a day with a soft bristled tooth brush and a fluoride toothpaste.
  • Second, after paying attention to your gumline while brushing, floss between your teeth to the gumline.
    Then you can rinse with a mouth wash to remove any remaining debris that you loosened through brushing and flossing.

Clean & Maintaining Dental Implants