The biggest challenge in placing dental implants is finding enough bone to support your implants

Placing dental implants is not always as straightforward. The biggest challenge to placing dental implants is finding sufficient bone to secure the implant posts (screws). If there isn’t enough bone to support your implants, then bone augmentation surgeries may be required to prepare your jawbone for implant placement. The exact treatment depends on where the implants are located and how much existing bone there is. Here are some examples of common bone augmentation surgeries commonly performed in conjunction with dental implants:

Bone Graft

Bone graft is a common performed in conjunction with dental implant placement. The function of bone graft is to help fill in voids to promote bone growth and lock the implant in place. Bone graft is commonly placed after extracting failing teeth to preserve the socket for future dental implant placement. It can also be used at the time of implant placement to help grow additional bone surrounding the implant. Bone graft is obtained from various sources, it can be synthetic, cadaver (allograft), pig or cow bone (xenograft), or from your own body (autograft).

Block Graft

Block bone graft is a complex grafting procedure used to replace very large bony defects. It is used to restore bone height to place implants in areas that don’t have sufficient bone to accept a dental implant. A standard bone graft is used to preserve minor defects and fill in extraction sockets. A block graft is used to restore large bony defects where a simple graft is incapable of restoring the missing bone. Block graft is obtained from a donor in your own body, typically the chin or ramus of mandible. Block grafts are fixed in place using fixation screws to stabilize the graft and allow it to heal properly. Often times, your dentist or surgeon will also draw blood, a process known as Platelet Rich Fibrin (PRF), to help improve soft tissue and bone regeneration surrounding the graft.

Sinus Lift

sinus lift is used to place dental implants in the upper posterior jaw area. For those who are dental savvy, a sinus lift is used for implant placement on teeth #2, 3, 4, 13, 14 and 15 and occasionally on #5 and 12. You require a sinus lift whenever there’s not enough bone under the sinuses to place a dental implant. By elevating the sinuses, your dentist can pack bone and place a large enough dental implant to restore your tooth.

Lateral Wall Sinus Graft

lateral wall sinus graft is a sinus augmentation procedure reserved for the most extreme cases. A sinus lift is needed whenever you have about 4 to 8 mm of remaining bone under the sinuses. When there is less than 4 mm of bone, you will require a lateral wall sinus graft instead. To perform a lateral wall sinus graft, your dentist will cut a hole to access your sinus membrane. Then, he or she will manually push the sinus membrane up and add significant amount of bone underneath your sinus. Once healed, there will be more than enough room to place multiple large dental implants under the sinus. It takes a week to recover from a lateral wall sinus graft. Be sure to get lots of rest and avoid putting pressure on your sinuses. This means no blowing your nose, no straws, and no coughing or sneezing (do it with your mouth open if you have to) until you’ve recovered from your surgery.

How much does a bone graft or sinus lift cost?

The cost of a bone graft or sinus surgery depends on the complexity of your treatment. A standard bone graft is typically the least expensive augmentation procedure, costing just a few hundred dollars. Next is a sinus lift, which is a bit more tricky, and your cost is likely to get closer to a thousand dollars or more. Finally, block grafts and lateral wall sinus grafts get quite expensive. Not only all these surgeries very complex, but they require lots of costly raw material, such as processed grafts, screws, and membranes. A block graft or lateral wall sinus graft typically costs several thousand dollars, which is in addition to the cost of your actual dental implants. Dental implants are not inexpensive, however, there really is no better investment in your health, beauty, and confidence than getting your missing teeth back!


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