Can A Dental Implant Replace A Long Absent Tooth Without Any Bone Grafting?

Posted on: 29 December 2021


If you're considering implant dentistry to replace a long-absent tooth, it's possible to be discouraged by your initial research on the topic. Your eligibility for a dental implant can depend on the density of your jawbone at the site of the empty dental socket. For many patients, this means that bone grafting is an unavoidable prerequisite for having an implant installed. But this isn't the case for all patients or all teeth.

Constant Stimulation

Teeth are anchored in a part of your jaw called the alveolar ridge. The bone retains its density by constant stimulation, applied via pressure from the tooth. This pressure is delivered via biting and chewing. When a tooth is lost, this necessary stimulation ceases. In response, a process called bone resorption begins.

Osteoclasts and Your Jaw

This resorption is triggered by bone cells called osteoclasts, which handle bone nutrition and repairs. The bone no longer supports a tooth, so osteoclasts redirect various nutrients (primarily calcium) back into your bloodstream. As a result, the bone (while remaining perfectly intact) loses some density. The loss of density means that bone grafting can be needed to restore the bone before it can support a dental implant.

An Additional Surgical Procedure

Bone grafting can be a deterrent for some patients, simply because it's a surgical procedure in addition to the dental implant surgery. This grafting must heal before the implant can be placed, which prolongs your overall treatment time. And yet, depending on the tooth to be replaced, bone grafting may not be essential.

Anterior Teeth

If you're missing an anterior tooth (teeth towards the front of your dental arch, such as incisors and canine teeth), you may be a suitable candidate for an ultrashort root form implant, which requires minimal bone density to create a stable connection between the implant and the bone. Such implants are better suited to anterior teeth, as these teeth have shorter root structures than posterior teeth (such as molars).

The Ultrashort Implant

The design of an ultrashort root form implant relies upon fins along its (short) length, in addition to a spherical dome at its base. This permits the implant to gain sufficient stability to host a prosthetic tooth, even when bone density may be lacking. The implant connects to the prosthetic tooth with a Morse taper, which creates an airtight, hermetic seal. 

Admittedly, a patient who is missing a molar may not be a suitable candidate for an ultrashort root form implant, as the bite pressure the tooth will experience means that an ultrashort implant can lack stability. But if you're missing an anterior tooth, have been missing it for quite some time, and don't much appreciate the idea of bone grafting—ask your dentist about your suitability for an ultrashort root form implant. 

Contact your dentist for more information about implant dentistry