If you’ve been told you can’t have implants, it’s generally because a dentist has determined that you have insufficient bone around the missing tooth to support an implant.
There are three factors doctors assess when determining bone sufficiency in treatment planning for a dental implant:
- Quality of Bone
- Width of Bone
- Height of Bone
Bone quality: This is often reflective of how long your teeth have been missing. Bone quality can deteriorate with time. Also as a general rule, bone density is greater in the lower jaw than it is in the upper jaw. Poor density bone can still support implants. However, your surgeon might recommend a different protocol for treatment of poor quality bone or to place more implants for implant stability to maximise long term success.
Bone Width: If a doctor determines you don’t have enough bone width to properly support a dental implant, they will generally recommend a bone graft. Bone width is the easiest type of bone deficiency to regenerate, and there are many, many techniques that dental implant surgeons can use to regenerate bone width.
Bone Height is much more difficult. It is only in recent days that techniques to regenerate bone height have been discovered, and some specialised surgeons have begun seeing great results with regenerating bone height. If you’ve been told you can’t regenerate enough bone height, it may be worth seeing a specialised implant surgeon who has been trained in grafting bone height to assess whether this new technology may be applicable to your situation.
Other health factors, such as uncontrolled diabetes or smoking, may affect your suitability for an implant as the surgery and healing process can be complicated by these conditions. Dr Helen has another video and blog on this topic and how to work with your dentist to minimise your risk of implant rejection if dealing with these conditions.