Save That Jawbone
March 28, 2013
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Save That Jawbone...


            At some point in most lives, we will be faced with losing a tooth.  Whether from gum disease or trauma or dental decay, chances are it will happen.  When it does, a little bit of knowledge often goes a long way.


            The bone that holds our teeth in place (called alveolar bone) is very unique in that it exists for one special hold our teeth in place.  Almost as soon as a tooth is lost, the bone that held onto that tooth starts to dissolve, never to return.  Some studies show a loss of up to thirty percent of bone volume in the first six months after a tooth is removed.  Being that most teeth have a partner on either side, this bone loss is a big deal.  Losing a tooth can often lead to weakening of neighboring teeth.  The loss of just one tooth can lead to a cascade of other problems.


            If a broken tooth can be fixed, there are a number of reasons to invest in yourself and have it saved.  Most often, it costs a lot less time, money, and pain to save an existing tooth than it does to replace that same tooth years later. 


            If a tooth cannot be saved, then it makes a lot of sense to put something in that hole to prevent the alveolar bone from being lost.  In the best circumstances, a biocompatible dental implant can be placed in the same hole left where a tooth is taken out.  The titanium root stimulates the alveolar bone and keeps it from being lost.  After three to six months of healing, a new tooth can be placed on the dental implant.


            Sometimes, due to infection, bone loss or the shape of different tooth roots, an immediate implant is not a good option.  In these cases, a bone graft can be performed to maintain and grow a patient’s own bone.  These grafts are pain free and add just a few extra minutes to the extraction procedure.  Amazingly, in just twelve weeks, our bodies turn these grafts into our very own healthy bone.  An added benefit to bone grafting is reduced post-operative pain and not having a big hole that packs food where the tooth used to be.


            Until next week, keep smiling.


-Questions can be sent to Drs. Parrish at