Most people are good candidates for dental implants, but the amount of bone you have in your jaw can make a difference. If you have lost jaw bone because of gum disease or extended time wearing dentures, then you may need to have a bone graft first in order to support your implants.
But will this impact the success rate of your dental implants?
A new study says “no,” there’s no statistical difference in survival rates, but there was still a difference in the actual survival rates.
Extensive Bone Grafts
It’s important to note that this study compared dental implants placed in bone with those placed in substantial bone grafts. These grafts were large enough that the dental implant couldn’t be placed at the same time as the graft, but required a second procedure to place the implants.
They looked at 1222 patients who received 2729 dental implants over the period from 1985 to 2012.
At five years, the survival rate for implants placed in native bone was 92%, compared to only 90% for implants placed in bone grafts. The 10-year survival rate was much lower, 87% for implants placed in native bone, and 79% for implants placed in bone grafts. Researchers say that these rates are not statistically different, which may be related to the fact that most of the implants had a short follow-up period, which would make it harder to achieve significance at the longer time frame.
Researchers did determine, however, that a professional maintenance program for dental implants decreased failure rates by 80%, while smoking and other tobacco use increased the failure rate by 2.6 times.
Although this study didn’t show higher failure rates related to bone grafts, previous studies have shown that bone grafts might cause increased risks, perhaps as much as 5 times.
How to Avoid Bone Grafts
Even if the survival rate is the same in dental implants placed in bone grafts or in native bone, there are other reasons to avoid bone grafts if you can. A bone graft can make your dental implant procedure longer. There is a second procedure and a second healing period that may be months long. And with these additional procedures come additional costs. So it’s better if we can avoid a grafting procedure.
Although it’s not always possible, here are some ways that you can potentially avoid getting a bone graft with your dental implants:
- Keep your mouth healthy: gum disease can damage bone and make grafting necessary
- Act quickly: once your teeth have been extracted, your body begins removing the bone that used to support them. The sooner you get your implants, the less likelihood you’ll need a bone graft.
- Change expectations: fully supported dentures require a lot of support from your jaw bone, but dentures that are just held in place by your implants require less bone to secure them.
The decision about which of these might be appropriate for you can be made during your consultation. We will consider all your options and recommend the procedure that gives you the highest chance of success.