When our patients come to the decision to repair their smile with dental implants, there is usually a lots of excitement accompanied by the desire to start treatment right away. However, we encourage our patients to use caution because not every patient is prepared for dental implants immediately. The most common scenario that we see is patients suffering from specific conditions that present challenges to dental implant placement. Luckily, there are some amazing supplemental procedures available that can help prepare these patients for dental implant treatment. Here are some examples of patients who needed supplemental treatment. Names have been changed to protect patient privacy.
Occasionally, patients who choose tooth replacement options like bridges or dentures will lose gum tissue or jawbone density over time. In the past, these patients would have been ineligible for dental implants because of the condition of their oral tissues. But today, there are many options to fix these problems. More specifically, additional steps may be required before dental implants can be placed. Two of the most commonly used supplemental procedures are bone grafting and gum tissue grafting. Both procedures add necessary volume to the tissues in places where healthy and dense tissue is necessary. Both procedures also assist patients in successfully preparing for their dental implant placement.
One patient example is Meridian Street Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery patient Denise. Denise is a 61-year-old female patient with five teeth missing in her upper jaw. The teeth were lost in a car accident approximately 20 years ago. After the accident, Denise chose dentures because they were a relatively inexpensive option. Through the years, her bridge has allowed her to eat and smile normally, but she has lost quite a bit of gum tissue beneath her bridge. Now, after exploring her current options, she wants a permanent solution that looks and feels more natural.
Sometimes in patients like Denise, bridges can cause gums to recede, leaving sensitive areas of root tissue exposed. This can cause pain, increases risk of infection, and high rates of decay. However, tissue grafting can help since it has been proven extremely successful in making gingival tissue resistant to gum recession.
When gum tissue grafting is needed, a small tissue graft is harvested from the patient’s palate using a small incision. This can be done before, or at the same time the dental implant is being placed. The specially harvested graft material will then be placed in the prepared area. The resulting tissue graft preserves the necessary soft tissue and makes the gums less likely to recede after surgery.
Our second patient example is Meridian Street Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery patient Kevin. Kevin is a 58-year-old male patient with seven teeth missing in his lower jaw. The teeth were lost about 30 years ago during a bout of gum disease. After the tooth loss, Kevin got his health back and chose dentures because they were a relatively inexpensive option. Through the years, his denture has allowed him to eat and smile, but his jawbone has flattened considerably. Now, after exploring his current options he wants a permanent solution that looks, feels, and functions more naturally.
Dentures used to be the best option for patients like Kevin who were dealing with the problems associated with tooth loss. Unfortunately, dentures can cause muscles in the jaw to weaken with disuse and the jawbone itself to pancake or flatten out over time. In extreme cases, the bone flattens until there is only a narrow piece remaining. These patients often have the characteristic “little old man” look. This can also cause wrinkles to appear prematurely, making the patient appear years older than they actually are.
To combat bone deterioration and a flattened jawbone after tooth loss, procedures were created to help rebuild jawbone volume. Most of these procedures were initially designed to help patients wear their dentures comfortably and chew normally. Early attempts were ineffective, painful, and unsuccessful. Later, doctors discovered that a simple tissue graft from a donated bones source could easily be attached to areas of the jaw lacking proper volume. These later efforts were much more successful and much less painful. Now, patients like Kevin can get bone or tissue grafting right in the doctor’s office in just a few short visits.
Here at Meridian Street Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery, we know that not all patients are immediately ready for treatment despite the desire to repair their smiles. In the past, problems with bone or tissue density in the jaw could have prevented proper installation and healing of dental implants. But today, thanks to bone and tissue grafting, many patients who were previously unable, can now take advantage of dental implants. If you would like more information, please check out the rest of our dental implants website or call us now for a consultation today.
Dr. Michael Bennett
Fishers Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery
9126 Technology Lane, Suite #300
Fishers, IN 46038