Over a period of time, the jawbone associated with missing teeth atrophies (shrinks). Once a tooth is extracted, the bone of the jaw where the tooth was removed can shrink up to 30% in the first year.
Today, we have the ability to grow bone where needed. This not only gives us the opportunity to place implants of proper length and width, but it also gives us a chance to restore functionality and aesthetic appearance.
Immediately following an extraction, the surrounding bone begins to resorb/shrink unless a procedure is completed to stop this process. If you are considering a dental implant, a socket preservation graft can be placed after the extraction. Socket preservation grafting is a simple, painless procedure that can actually help prevent the need for additional surgeries in the future for dental implants.
Major Bone Grafting
Major bone grafts are typically performed to repair defects of the jaws. These defects may arise as a result of traumatic injuries, tumor surgery, congenital defects, or teeth that have been missing for long periods of time. Large defects are repaired using the patient’s own bone. This bone is harvested from a number of different sites depending on the size of the defect. Alternatively, grafts can be purchased from bone banks to avoid donor site surgery.
Sinus Lift Procedure
The maxillary sinuses are behind your cheeks and on top of the upper back teeth. Sinuses are like empty rooms that have nothing in them. Some of the roots of the natural upper teeth extend up into the maxillary sinuses. When these upper teeth are removed, there is often just a thin wall of bone separating the maxillary sinus and the mouth. In addition, the same process can happen when the furthest back molars in the upper jaw have been missing for a length of time. Dental implants need bone to hold them in place. When the sinus wall is very thin, it is impossible to place dental implants in this bone.
There is a solution and it’s called a sinus graft or sinus lift graft. Dr. Sedaros enters the sinus from where the upper teeth used to be. The sinus membrane is then lifted upward and donor bone is inserted into the floor of the sinus. Keep in mind that the floor of the sinus is the roof of the upper jaw. After three or four months of healing, the bone becomes part of the patient’s jaw and dental implants can be inserted and stabilized in this new sinus bone.
The sinus graft makes it possible for many patients to have dental implants when years ago there was no other option other than wearing loose dentures.
If there is approximately 5-6 mm of bone between the upper jaw and the bottom of the sinus, sinus augmentations and implant placement can sometimes be performed as a single procedure. If not enough bone is available, the sinus augmentation will have to be performed first, then the graft will have to mature for 3-4 months. Once the graft has matured, the implants can be placed.