Our treatments using dental implants enable you to have fixed, beautiful, life-like teeth when you have lost or need to lose one or several teeth. For implant treatment to be possible you need a sufficient quality and quantity of bone to be present. This enables the right size of implant to be placed in the correct position. Unfortunately, when a tooth is removed, the bone that it used to sit in starts to shrink. This happens very quickly during the first year and then continues at a slower rate throughout life. Therefore, when some patients request implants, they no longer have enough bone for them. When this situation occurs a bone graft will be needed. This might be a simple bone graft done on the dental chair, or a complex graft requiring a referral to an oral and maxillofacial surgeon for treatment under general anaesthetic.
Fortunately, it is possible to prevent this situation arising in almost all circumstances. On the day a tooth is removed a bony socket is left under the gum line. The bony socket is where the root of the tooth sat before it was removed. To prevent the walls of the socket from collapsing and shrinking as the bone heals, we can use ‘socket preservation’. Socket preservation describes the technique of stopping the shrinkage of bone that begins quickly after a tooth is removed. If using this technique, immediately after your tooth is removed, we fill the residual socket with special crystals called BioOss. To stop the crystals from falling out or washing away we cover them with a membrane called Mucograft. These materials form a template for your gum and bone to grow in the correct position instead of shrinking and collapsing. The result is that when you are ready to have your implant(s) you are very unlikely to be faced with having additional, possibly complex grafting procedures, or compromised treatment.
If patients know they want an implant, we can usually place it on the day their tooth is removed. In these circumstances we assess a 3D scan of your jaw before removing your tooth to ensure the technique is suitable for you. When possible / appropriate we will place a temporary tooth / teeth on your implant(s) on the same day too.
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