Airport Road Dental Associates - 3465 Airport Road, Portage, Indiana 46368 - (219) 763-2727




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Alternatives to Bone Grafts for Dental Implants

Dental implant treatment is one of the best ways of replacing a lost tooth. The treatment requires you to have adequate jawbone density and thickness. The common way of dealing with inadequate jawbone is to get a bone graft. However, alternatives to bone grafts exist. Below are some of these alternatives.

Full Arch Support

In a conventional dental implant, the implant goes into the jawbone directly under the missing teeth. Thus, you need a bone graft if you want a single-tooth implant and the jawbone under it isn't adequate. However, the situation is different if you need multiple-teeth replacements.

For one, jawbone deterioration is rarely uniform. In most cases, dental examination shows some parts of the bone are denser than others. Secondly, dentists don't use an implant for every missing tooth for those who want to replace multiple teeth. Instead, the dentist can use four to six implants to support a full arch of teeth.

Thus, you don't need a bone graft if you need multiple teeth implants and some parts of your jawbone are dense enough. The dentist will just place the necessary implants in the dense parts of your jawbone and use them to support the rest of your teeth. That way, even the implants above the deteriorated parts of the bone will be strong.

Zygomatic Implants

Traditional dental implants go into the jawbone. However, the cheekbone is also dense enough to accommodate an implant. The dental industry has created zygomatic implants that go into the zygoma in case the jawbone has deteriorated. The zygomatic implant comes with a tilt and an extended design that affords it a strong anchor into the cheekbone.

Note that zygomatic implants can work for a single tooth, multiple teeth, or a full arch. The implants also have a high success rate — so you need not worry about implant failure because the dentist hasn't used the jawbone.

Pterygoid Implants

Pterygoid implants can also help if you are missing a tooth or teeth in the upper jaw. In this case, the dentist inserts the implant deep into the pterygoid plates, which attach to the sphenoid bones. The sphenoid bones sit on the lower edge of the cranium (skull).

The pterygoid plates sit a considerable distance from the jawbone. Thus, pterygoid implants are unusually longer so that they can reach the pterygoid plates. The plates are dense and sturdy enough to support dental implants without further modifications, such as sinus lift.

Ridge Expansion

Jawbone deterioration can lead to the collapse of bone tissues surrounding a lost tooth socket. The collapse reduces the horizontal width of the jawbone, and the remaining horizontal width might not be adequate for a dental implant. Vertical deterioration also reduces the available bone depth for implant treatment.

Ridge expansion treatment can help with both situations. During the expansion, the dentist divides the remaining ridge bone and uses a wedge to keep them apart. You may or may not need a bone graft alongside the expansion, depending on the available ridge size. The dentist may place the implant on the same day if you don't need the grafting.


Alveoplasty involves reshaping and smoothing the jawbone after tooth loss. The treatment may be necessary if the top part of the dental ridge is narrow or uneven and cannot support an implant, but the bottom part is adequately thick. In such a case, the dentist may smooth and reshape the top of the ridge to allow for dental implant insertion.

Your circumstances determine whether you need a bone graft or any of the alternatives. Consult Airport Road Dental Associates for your dental implant, and let us determine the treatments you need.