It is never too late to have dental implant surgery.
Though many patients opt to get dental implants right after tooth loss or extraction, immediate placement isn’t a must.
If you’ve been missing teeth for several years, implant surgery can still work well to restore your natural smile. However, because bone loss may be a factor, you may require bone grafting to stabilize your new replacement teeth.
How Long-Term Tooth Loss Affects Jawbone Health
The health and density of your jawbone are dependent on stimulation from opposing bite forces. When you lose a tooth, that stimulation goes too. Consequently, the part of the bone that formerly supported the tooth begins to resorb, or break down into the bloodstream.
As time goes on, bone loss in the jaw can become significant. The problem is worse when multiple teeth are missing.
Fortunately, even significant bone loss does not mean you have to rule out implant surgery. As long as you are healthy enough for a routine dental procedure, you can get dental implants.
How Oral Surgeons Create a Strong Foundation for Implant Surgery
Dental implants are placed directly into the jawbone, much like the natural tooth roots. So bone health is important — the jaw must have adequate structural stability to anchor the replacement teeth in place.
Fortunately, bone loss can be addressed easily through grafting.
Bone grafting is an oral surgery procedure in which additional bone tissue is transplanted into the jaw to provide a strong foundation for dental implants.
That may sound scary, but grafting is a routine, in-office procedure. Oral surgeons commonly use natural human bone from a tissue bank, cow bone tissue or synthetic materials for bone grafts. So while you can opt to have surgery to harvest tissue from your own body, that isn’t typically a requirement for implant surgery patients.
How Implant Surgery Can Improve Your Oral Health
When you have teeth missing, your remaining teeth are forced to take on more of the work in biting and chewing. As a result, everyday use takes more of a toll, creating excessive wear, and often leading to additional damage and tooth loss.
Tooth loss also creates a breeding ground for bacteria. Gaps in the gums can be challenging to clean thoroughly, so you face an increased risk of developing gingivitis and periodontal disease.
Dental implants can improve your oral health by helping prevent excessive wear and tear on your natural teeth. And when the gaps in your smile are filled, proper oral hygiene becomes easier, making tooth decay and gum disease less likely.
Since dental implants fuse into the jawbone, they help prevent further bone loss. Stopping bone loss can help prevent other teeth from becoming damaged or loosening and falling out.
Tooth replacement should be considered as soon as possible after tooth loss, but later is better than never. The professional team at Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery of Utah has extensive experience with dental implants and bone grafting, and our oral surgeons can help you decide on the best way to restore your smile. Contact one of our three convenient Salt Lake City area offices today to schedule an implant surgery consultation.