Replacing Dentures With Implants: Can My Jawbone Support Them?

6 February 2015
 Categories: Health & Medical , Blog


Imagine being able to replace your dentures with new teeth that are indistinguishable from real teeth – new teeth that will never slide around in your mouth, interfere with your speech or, worst of all, threaten to fall out in public! While dentures are certainly preferable to having no teeth at all, they certainly have some disadvantages – and that's where dental implants come in.

With titanium or ceramic "roots" implanted into your jaw, dental implants rely on a process called osseointegration to hold the replacement teeth permanently in place. This means that living bone fuses securely and directly to the implants. The replacement teeth, attached to these roots, then look, feel, and act like normal teeth – they must be brushed and flossed, for example – although they will never develop cavities.

In order for osseointegration to take place, the bone in your jaw must be healthy and strong. However, where tooth loss has occurred, it's common to have lost bone within the jaw as well. Insufficient bone health or density doesn't mean dental implants are off the table, however. It's very possible – even common – to build up bone structure and density in the jaw through simple bone augmentation.

Often referred to as bone grafts, this augmentation involves taking your own bone – often a piece from elsewhere in the jaw or the hip – and implanting it into the jaw. If your bone health is poorer in general, the bone can also be harvested from animals. The material is completely sterilized and all non-bone organic material is removed; over time, your body will regenerate that bone into your own.

Minor bone grafts may even be able to be done at the same time as the implants themselves; this largely depends on how much material must be grafted. Larger grafts must be performed before the dental implants and then allowed to grow together with your original bone.

When people think about having material implanted into them, as in a bone graft, they often associate it with organ transplants. So what happens if a graft fails? Although the success rate is very high, it can happen. However, bone grafts that fail are not "rejected" by the body like a transplanted organ, which is a very serious issue; instead, what usually happens is that the bone simply doesn't fuse together and grow. If this happens, it's easy for the dentist to remove the failed graft and try again with a new piece of bone. Talk to experts like Great Plains Oral Surgery And Implant Center for more information.