For many Americans dealing with periodontal disease or other dental conditions that can cause tooth loss, dental implants provide a path back to health. Unlike removable bridges and dentures, these implants quickly integrate into your bone to become a part of your dental structure, and with a 98 percent success rate, they're generally a good investment in your health. However, the success of these implants largely depends on the strength of the jaw bone anchoring them into place. If you're dealing with bone loss or osteoporosis, you may find it more difficult to maintain your dental implants. Read on to learn more about some therapies and treatments that can help you improve the bone density in your jaw and reduce the odds of implant failure.
Why is bone density so important when it comes to dental implants?
Dental implants are composed of two main parts -- a ceramic or porcelain crown that mimics the look and function of your natural tooth, and a titanium or other surgical metal pin that travels from this crown through your dental socket and into the bone of your jaw. Generally, this titanium rod will be placed first and allowed to heal before the crown is attached. Over time, the bone around the insertion site will begin to grow over the titanium rod, fusing it firmly into place so that it is indistinguishable from the surrounding natural teeth.
While this process (known as osseointegration) is relatively quick, those dealing with osteoporosis or low bone density due to genetics or medication may find the healing process much slower and more cumbersome. In some cases, continued bone loss in the jaw could cause these titanium rods to become loose, working their way out of the jaw and leading to implant failure. If there is no longer enough jaw bone to anchor these implants, you'll instead need to investigate dentures or bridges.
What can you do to stop the effects of bone loss?
If you've already had your implants placed and have been diagnosed with osteoporosis or told your bones are beginning to weaken, you may want to start with nutritional supplements and a diet overhaul designed to build bones. By increasing your intake of calcium and Vitamin D, you should be able to stop your body from leaching calcium from your bones for nutrition. When combined with other therapies like weight-bearing exercises, this may even help you rebuild density in your weakened bones. Depending upon the speed with which you're losing bone density, your doctor may also prescribe a stronger osteoporosis treatment drug that will rebuild bone more quickly than the long-term supplements are able to manage on their own.
Before beginning to take any new supplements or medications (even over-the-counter supplements), it's important to review all drugs you're taking with your doctor or dentist. This will ensure you end up with the most beneficial supplements for your needs and can avoid any potentially harmful drug interactions.
For situations in which your dental implant has already begun to fail, you may be able to permanently strengthen your jaw bone and retain the implant by having a biological prosthesis implanted. Scientists recently developed a 3D-printed jaw composed of a mixture of bone powder and surgical plastic as a "scaffold" to encourage further bone growth. As the tiny gaps in the implant fill with bone, the calcium polyphosphate used to create the implant's bulk will eventually degrade and be harmlessly absorbed by your body, leaving a denser jaw bone that can better support your implants. This should be able to simultaneously protect your dental implants while preventing your jaw bone from further eroding.
For more information, contact a local dental clinic like Tijeras Dental Service.