Dental implants are a highly popular dental procedure for replacing lost teeth. Dental implants are able to restore the mouth back to full function with a highly predictive, strong, long lasting restoration. However, for many, dental implants are not even an option due to poor bone density and quality of their bone. What if dental implants were possible for these patients? Well, new research says that is possible.
Bone Break = Stronger Bone?
A recent article in the Journal of Oral Implantology suggests that the introduction of micro cracks in the jaw bones can stimulate bone growth. This would be especially helpful in patients with compromised bone density and bone quality. In theory, micro cracks can be developed in these patients and then following healing they would be able to receive their dental implants allowing for full restoration when otherwise they would not be able to.
Currently, the only way to improve bone density in patients lacking it would be the use of a dental bone graft and/or a sinus lift. These procedures require extra steps as well as extra cost. They also come with potential pitfalls such as the bone graft not taking on the first attempt.
What Did The Research Show?
The researchers used an instrument called an Osteotensor. This instrument was designed specifically for this dental implants study. This instrument is able to make a series of micro cracks in the jawbone in the area of the desired dental implant placement. Researchers found that, following placement of these micro cracks, there was biological response. Proteins, stem cells, and other growth factors began work to heal and regenerate the bone. The healing process is completed in about 45-90 days. At this time, the patient would be ready for dental implant placement.
The research followed the progress of a 74 year old woman who was treated with this technique. 45 days after the initial formation of micro cracks, the osteotensor instrument was unable to penetrate the bone at 23 of 42 impact sites. After 90 days, none of the sites were able to be penetrated. Softer type IV bone had been transformed into harder type II bone and it was then deemed safe to proceed with the dental implants surgery.
Dental implants are currently successful over 95% of the time but for many patients their bone density and quality do not allow them to even have the option offered to them. With this new research it opens doors to allow for even more dental implant successes in the future, as well as opening the procedure up to entire new populations.