Dental implants are a popular dental treatment to help people replace missing teeth and regain their smile. However, because dental implants need to be inserted into the jawbone to support crowns or bridges, there needs to be adequate bone mass in the jaw to offer enough stability.

If a patient doesn’t have enough bone to hold a dental implant, then their dentist will suggest having bone graft surgery. This is where a dental surgeon will cut into the gum and position bone graft material into the jaw bone. The procedure is done under local anaesthetic so the surgery is comfortable and pain-free.

The bone graft is then left for a good 3 to 6 months, giving the patient enough time to grow enough new bone to be able to support a dental implant.

The reason why bone loss can occur in the jaw making it unsuitable for dental implantation can be through tooth loss. As we bite and chew, our jaws create physical stimuli that helps to strengthen the jawbone and rebuild bone.

However, after a tooth extraction, the physical stimuli is lost and the surrounding jaw bone will start to deteriorate and lose its strength and density. This is why it is important to have any missing teeth replaced as soon after their loss as possible to help maintain bone density.

If you have lost a tooth, or you are about to go through a tooth extraction and want to have dental implants, then discuss with your dentist how soon you can have them. If you lost a tooth a long while ago, check to see if you need bone graft surgery before having an implant.