During your preliminary consultations with your dentist, you'll quickly learn that bone mass plays a major role in your suitability to receive a dental implant. In fact, bone grafting to restore lost bone mass can be a compulsory step for some patients. But why is this, and is there any way to avoid the need for bone grafting?

Constant Stimulation

Your jaw demands constant stimulation. This stimulation is provided by pressure exerted on your teeth—from its biting surface, down its entire length, to its root and dental socket, where it meets the bone. This stimulation encourages the bone to retain its density in order to support the tooth. A lost tooth removes site-specific stimulation, and the nutrients that permit the bone to continually regenerate itself are diverted elsewhere.

When Grafting is Performed

This loss of mass means that the dental implants can fail to integrate with the bone in which they're placed. This is when grafting becomes necessary. A small amount of bone tissue is grafted into the empty socket and is then consolidated into the surrounding jaw. This grafting tissue can come from a donor, a compatible animal (typically a cow), yourself (extracted from within your mouth, or your hip), or it can be a synthetic material. 

Extended Waiting Period

Once grafting is performed, you'll need to wait several months for the introduced grafting material to be assimilated into your jaw, and you'll then need to wait several months for the dental implant to integrate with your grafted jaw. 

Don't Delay

Although grafting isn't exactly complicated, you might wonder if it's somehow possible to skip this step. Whether or not you can bypass the need for grafting depends on the tooth to be replaced, as well as when it was lost. The loss of mass doesn't happen overnight, but each passing week increases the odds that grafting will be essential before an implant can be placed. It's in your best interest to replace a missing tooth without delay. You may be able to avoid grafting if the implant is placed promptly after the tooth is lost.

Miniature Implants

It can be possible for an implant to integrate with bone that has lost some of its mass. This is only feasible when the implant is to replace a lateral or central incisor or even a canine. These teeth are used to grip and tear food, and as such, are subjected to less pressure than a molar that handles your chewing. A miniature implant can offer sufficient stability for a prosthetic incisor, as it requires less bone mass than a traditional implant. 

There can never be any certainty that grafting can be bypassed, and this must be confirmed by your dentist. In any event, miniature implants aren't appropriate for all teeth (or all patients), and pronounced bone loss will still require grafting, regardless of the tooth's location.

For more information contact a company like Elite Smile Center.