Jawbone Atrophy: What are my options?

Long-term denture wearers often notice that their dentures become looser as the years pass. This is due to a phenomenon known as jawbone atrophy, which occurs after tooth loss.

With jawbone atrophy, the bone wears away because there are no longer teeth roots available to anchor it in place. Over time, the shape of the jawbone will change, which results in dentures losing their fit.

This process can be halted with dental implants, though. The implants fuse with the bone, replicating the absent teeth roots and preventing further bone loss.

Although dental implants can prevent jawbone atrophy, the condition can present obstacles to an oral surgeon and the patient if a significant amount of bone loss has already occurred.

In the past, denture wearers who wanted to graduate to implants might have faced an initial bone graft surgery before the dental implants could be faced. An improved procedure known as All-on-4 allows patients who already have jawbone atrophy to be eligible for dental implant placement despite that bone loss.

All-on-4 is an innovative technique that uses just four dental implants to secure a prosthetic arch. This represents a major improvement over past treatments, which necessitated six or eight implants to support a denture.

In All-on-4, the implants are placed toward the front of the jaw. The outer two implants are slightly angled below the gumline, which allows them to provide additional support to the prosthetic.

Jawbone atrophy occurs most quickly at the rear of the mouth, so the front of the jaw generally retains enough bone to support implants for a longer period of time. This pattern provides the foundation of the All-on-4 approach.

The surgery is completed in a matter of hours, and patients can be fitted with a prosthetic arch the day the implants are placed. You may be fitted with a stronger, permanent appliance after the implants have integrated fully with the bone.

If you have already experienced jawbone atrophy after years of wearing dentures, don’t let that stop you from pursuing dental implants. Talk to our skilled oral surgeons at either of our two convenient dental offices about All-on-4 to learn if this treatment option will be effective for your unique situation.