Jaw Bone Assessment Before Dental Implants: What's Involved?

Just how straightforward it is for a dentist to place dental implants in your jaw depends on the state of your jaw bone. This is a reasonable thing to consider since the bone will be anchoring the implant, and when the bone doesn't have sufficient density to achieve this function, the implant's chances of success are greatly reduced. How is the suitability of your jaw bone determined?

The Missing Tooth

Your dentist may already have a rough idea of the density of the section of your jaw where the implant is to be placed. When the tooth to be replaced with the implant has been missing for a drawn-out period, your body registers the fact that the dental socket is empty, and the bone underneath is no longer subjected to bite pressure. This means that this section of bone can lose density, and bone grafting might be a requirement for your dental implant. Nothing is assumed, and your dentist will perform additional checks.

Diagnostic Testing and Medical History

Prior to receiving a dental implant, you may require a cone beam computed tomography (CBCT) scan. This scan targets your mouth and is a diagnostic tool designed to assess the density of your jaw. Your dentist will also question you about your medical history, with particular reference to any conditions which may have affected your skeletal structure, or any medications which are known to affect the density of your bones such as blood pressure medication.

Accessing the Bone

Once these checks have been performed with satisfactory results, your dentist will be able to proceed with implant placement. This involves them using a scalpel to make flaps in your gingival tissue at the site of the empty dental socket. These flaps can then be gently pulled back to expose the underlying bone. For most people, this bone is relatively flat (which is optimal for implant placement). If needed, your dentist can manually reshape the bone. However, when there's no question about the density of your bone (due to your dental and medical history, along with the results of diagnostic testing), your dentist may prefer to use a different method to place the implant.

Hole Punch

Your dentist can create a guide hole in your gingival tissues by using a type of medical hole punch, which removes a small circular section of the tissue at the implant site. This hole then acts as the access point for implant placement and is less invasive than scoring flaps in the gingival tissues. However, this hole punch method can only be used when the integrity of the underlying bone isn't a potential issue.

It's important to remember that a dentist can't simply place an implant into a patient's jaw without checking its density, and these checks are a normal (and essential) part of the process. For more information about dental implants, contact a local dental office.