While the primary concern for missing, or failing teeth is loss of biting and chewing function, treating a fading smile is often equally as important. With dental implant and advanced bone grafting solutions, you can enjoy both restored function and improved esthetics. Find out how bone grafting can help you get dental implants and strengthen the structure of your smile.
How Bone Grafting and Dental Implants Support the Structure of Smiles
Bone grafting is a broad term for a number of procedures aimed to replacing or regenerating lost bone. In general, these procedures are carried out in periodontal and oral surgery offices by specialists who place allograft (sterile cadaver bone made of collagen type 1 and 3) or autogenous (your own bone harvested from elsewhere in the mouth) bone material in areas of the jawbones that have experienced bone loss. This “regrown” bone now serves to replace teeth via implants at sites that were previously not candidates. At the new implant sites, the loading or what specialists call proprioception of the implant to the bone, preserves bone density and volume going forward. This is a way not only to replace missing teeth but also to minimize further loss of bone and preserve your natural anatomy.
Options for Bone Grafting
Here’s a look at two common bone grafting procedures:
Ridge augmentation – Bone tissue and growth factors, which expedite healing, are placed to strengthen jawbones and provide a firm foundation for dental implants. Dr. Anderson prefers a novel technique called S.M.A.R.T., involving adding bone graft to a deficit site via a pouch. This minimally invasive option is correlated with better patient reported outcomes and superior clinical gains vs more invasive traditional techniques.
Ridge preservation – Bone is grafted immediately into sockets after extraction. This procedure minimizes bone loss or atrophy after a tooth extraction, and can help prevent the need for ridge augmentation procedures thus leaving open the possibility for dental implants later.
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Why so serious? It’s likely a question you have heard in one form or another if you have a “gummy” smile you are shy about. Beyond making teeth appear longer and more uniform in length, crown lengthening can enhance your confidence to smile, exposing the longer more uniform teeth that have been covered by access gum. It can also make it easier to care for your teeth and gums. Find out how functional and esthetic crown lengthening can improve the health and appearance of your smile.
Esthetic Crown Lengthening
Esthetic crown lengthening is indicated for patients who genetically have not experienced a natural phenomenon called altered passive eruption where bone and gum to not “settle” to a normal level after tooth eruption as an early teen. Teeth often appear short and smiles often appear “gummy”. By reestablishing a normal level of the gum and related bone, an enhanced esthetic result is noted. Gums appear to have moved up and the proportions of the teeth are esthetically pleasing. Dr. Anderson uses a minimally invasive option to complete these procedures and in some cases, can complete the procedure with a BioLase laser on its own. For other cases, a minimal access tunnel is used and bone is “pushed up” (much like a cuticle over your fingernail) to reestablish more normal anatomy. The gum can then be set to drape in a natural, anatomic way.
Note: Crown lengthening entails reshaping both the gums and bone. If the bone is not enhanced, the procedure is simply known as “gingival contouring” or “gingivectomy” and is often correlated with gum level relapse. Dr. Anderson will examine your presentation to ensure you are receiving the correct course of treatment and educate you in detail as to your options.
Functional Crown Lengthening
While esthetic crown lengthening aims to improve the appearance of a smile, functional crown lengthening is used to facilitate the placement of dental restorations.
Functional crown lengthening, completed by your periodontist, involves creating mores space in the bone and gum and ultimately expose more tooth structure. This is completed so that the general dentist can adapt a crown to sound tooth structure. In cases with very minimal tooth structure remaining, without such procedures, crowns and restorations cannot be completed. While their goals are different, the procedures for functional and esthetic crown lengthening are essentially the same (as described above).
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