Some patients may want to replace a lost rear molar with a dental implant in order to preserve as much chewing function as possible and to maintain the integrity of the jawbone in the area. Many of these patients will be good candidates for this treatment, but it’s important to be evaluated by a dentist trained in implants to determine the likelihood that you’ll be able to achieve your desired treatment outcomes with a dental implant.
The most important characteristic of a dental implant patient is the quality of bone at the implant site. Unfortunately, jawbone atrophy following tooth loss occurs more rapidly at the rear of the mouth because the bone is thinner in that vicinity. Your oral surgeon will examine your jaw and take advanced medical x-rays to determine whether immediate implant placement is possible.
Patients who have put off getting dental implants may find that they have too little bone at the site to support osseointegration, the process by which the bone forms a bond with the implant, leaving it a fixture in the mouth.
However, a dental implant still may be used to replace a rear molar even after bone loss has occurred. The patient may be able to undergo a bone graft to provide supplemental bone in the area. The donor bone can be taken from elsewhere in the patient’s body or from an outside source.
A bone graft will extend the treatment timeline, but it can be valuable in helping some patients to reach their treatment goals.
If you want to avoid a bone graft prior to dental implant placement, it’s important that you begin planning for treatment as soon as possible after losing your molar or having it extracted before any significant bone loss occurs.