Dental implants for patients with bone loss

Dental implants are a popular solution for replacing missing teeth in patients of all ages, but the implant procedure relies on a certain level of jawbone density to be successful.

We’re here to explain everything you need to know about getting dental implants with bone loss, including why bone density is important for implants and what implant options are available.

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Dentist holding up an xray of a dental implant patient to check bone volume for bone augmentation

Bone density and dental implants

Dental implants are designed to replace missing or lost teeth. They work through a mechanism that involves a dental screw being affixed to the jawbone, which is then used as a mount for a replacement tooth. That means they have a relationship with bone density, a measure of the strength and mass of bones which is affected by all sorts of factors, including age, gender, and lifestyle.

It’s important to understand this relationship if you’re considering getting dental implants. The most critical things to know are:

  • After losing a tooth, the surrounding bone in the jaw can weaken and decay over time.
  • To be affixed securely, dental implants rely on a sufficiently dense jawbone area.

In most cases, low bone density isn’t a major issue. However, people with pre-existing low bone density might find that, after losing a tooth, their jawbone density drops below the minimum threshold for dental implants.

This is because the jawbone acts like an ‘anchor’ for the dental implant screw, securing it firmly enough to ensure that it can stay in place for a long period of time. Patients with bone loss might either not have a large enough jawbone to accommodate the screw, or a jawbone that’s too low-density to ensure the long-term stability of the implant.

Understandably, running into either of these two issues can make them feel like their treatment options are limited. Thankfully, though, that’s not entirely true. There are several options for people with low jawbone density to consider if they’re set on dental implants to replace missing teeth.

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Can you have dental implants with bone loss?

Despite the issues low jawbone density raises, you can still have dental implants with bone loss. In fact, there are a few different options to choose from, each offering its own unique pros and cons. These are two of the main ones:

Bone grafting

Bone grafting is a surgical procedure that involves taking healthy bone tissue from one part of the body and using it to strengthen the density of another. It can be used to increase jawbone density in dental implant patients, improving the chances of a successful procedure.

Mini dental implants

In some cases where a patient’s bone density is too low to support standard dental implants, it might still be sufficient for mini dental implants. These are smaller versions of the same technology, using screws less than 3mm in diameter, which can be used for both temporary and permanent tooth replacement.

How much do dental implants with bone loss cost?

The actual dental implant procedure will cost the same regardless of whether you have low bone density or not. However, additional costs will come about if a bone graft is required beforehand. How much a bone grafting procedure will cost is dependent on a lot of factors, with the main one being the amount of bone that needs to be grafted.

In the cases where mini dental implants are recommended instead of a bone graft followed by standard dental implants, the cost will generally be cheaper. This is because mini dental implants are inserted using a less invasive procedure, usually only requiring one dental visit instead of two or more.

a patient checking the dental implant costs in the UK

Do dental implants prevent or stop bone loss?

Dental implants can prevent further bone loss in the jaw, acting against bone resorption.

Bone resorption, or the degradation and shrinkage of bones, often occurs at the site of missing teeth due to a lack of stimulation from chewing. When dental implants are integrated with the jawbone (in a process called osseointegration), they reinforce the existing bone structure and reintroduce the forces that stimulate it, preserving its density.

This means that the newly strengthened bone following a pre-dental implant bone graft will have a higher chance of maintaining its strength over a long period of time, with the right maintenance.

How to prevent bone loss

Whether you’ve had a bone graft or not, there are several commonly recognised methods of preventing further bone loss. They include:

  • Eating calcium-rich foods (aiming for around 700mg of calcium intake per day) 
  • Ensuring your diet contains sufficient vitamin D intake
  • Exercising regularly, ideally using weight-bearing or resistance exercises
  • Limiting your alcohol intake and quitting or cutting down on smoking

If, however, your jawbone has already lost too much of its density to support a dental implant, a bone graft is the best solution to prepare it for the procedure.

To discuss getting dental implants with bone loss and get more details on the bone grafting process, book a free consultation call with one of our personal dental implant consultants.

Book a FREE consultation

Experience a seamless journey to your restored smile with our concierge service. Book a free consultation today and get started on your journey!

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