The main qualifier for having dental implants is having enough bone. If you don’t have enough bone, the bone can be rebuilt or I use what you have left. If you don’t have enough gum, that can be added back too.
The following x-rays show two extremes for purposes of educating you if you are considering having dental implants or are about to lose a tooth. The first shows my jaw and the second shows a jaw with almost complete bone loss.
All of the chin bone is gone too! Yikes! (Although this extreme patient seems to have “no bone,” she can still be treated with FIXED bridges using zygomatic implants on the upper and a prettau bridge on the lower.)
Have you ever heard the old adage “what you don’t use, you lose?” This applies to your jaw bone too! Your bone stays thick and tall when your teeth are there stimulating your bone every day. If you lose your teeth your jaw bone shrinks from disuse. This also happens when you are only missing even one tooth!
If you lose one tooth, the bone in the area of that tooth shrinks while the other areas stay intact.
Here is a sample of a patient where they lost a lot of bone in just one area:
Dental implants preserve your jaw bone and prevent the natural shrinkage that WILL occur with bone loss. A bridge or removable partial denture does not preserve or maintain your bone.
What is the best thing to do? Prevent losing bone in the first place. If you have to lose a tooth, replace it with an implant on the same day (immediate dental implant) or within the first 6 months after losing it. This will drastically lower the cost of your dental implant procedure. Besides saving you money, it will save you substantial time and greatly reduce the chance for complications which can and do occur.
Ramsey A. Amin, D.D.S.
Diplomate of the American Board of Oral Implantology /Implant Dentistry
Fellow of the American Academy of Implant Dentistry