I Don’t have enough Bone for a Dental Implant?
Dental implants are not actually teeth; they are the foundation for teeth. A dental implant is in reality a tooth root made of titanium, and like a tooth root, it must be inserted into bone. The actual placement of a single dental implant into jaw bone is one of the most comfortable procedures that we perform in our office, with patients often resuming normal activities that day. In some cases, however, a potential candidate for dental implants may be deficient in bone at the location where the implant needs to be placed. This usually occurs in situations where a tooth has been missing for a long period of time, allowing the associated bone to atrophy and disappear. What is to be done in these situations?
In years past, various techniques were used to try to add more bone. These ranged from using bone mineral powders stacked at the site to produce new bone (often unpredictable) to harvesting a piece of bone from another location (another area of the jaw, the hip, etc.) and fixing it in place in the new site with micro-screws. This latter option, while more predictable, involved the pain, swelling, and recovery from a second surgical site.
Over the past several years, we have had great success using “banked bone”; bone harvested from deceased individuals and processed free of any disease causing agents or antigens (substances that might trigger an immune response from the recipient). In short, the bone simply serves as a scaffold to be replaced by the patient’s own bone. This conversion to becoming the recipient’s bone is enhanced by the addition of the recipient’s platelet rich plasma (PRP). PRP is derived by drawing about 2 tablespoons of blood from the patient about 30 minutes prior to the procedure and then centrifuging it down in a series of steps to the platelet rich fraction. This plasma fraction is filled with the patient’s own highly concentrated growth factors and promotes graft healing when the graft is soaked in it.
Don’t think you have enough bone for a dental implant? Think again—this can usually be overcome by in-office procedures, often with a recovery no greater than that experienced with tooth removal. How great is that?