Dental implants are a durable, strong option for tooth replacement, so it’s understandable that patients would be interested in this treatment to fill in for a missing back molar, which takes its fair share of wear and tear.
In order to get the maximum benefit from dental implants, however, the patient must have enough bone tissue at the implant site to support osseointegration – the process by which the bone fuses with the titanium implant to render it a permanent fixture in the mouth. The bone in the vicinity of the rear molars tends to be thinner because it sits under the sinus cavity, so this can be problematic for some patients.
An oral surgeon can evaluate your case and make recommendations of the most appropriate interventions based on your needs. If you replace your missing molar relatively soon after it is lost or extracted, you may be a candidate for immediate implant placement at the site. If you delay replacing the tooth, you may experience some jawbone atrophy that makes the site unsuitable for implant placement.
When the latter scenario occurs, the oral surgeon may be able to supplement the bone with a bone graft. In this procedure, the surgeon would take bone from a donor source, such as the patient’s hip or an external donor, and insert it at the location of the missing tooth. Over time, that bone will integrate with the patient’s own bone and there will be enough tissue to support osseointegration.
Bone grafts do extend the overall dental implant treatment timeline because the patient must heal fully from that procedure before any dental implants can be placed. However, it’s a worthwhile investment of your time as a bone graft can significantly improve the chances of long-term dental implant success in some patients who might otherwise be at risk for premature implant failure.
Dental implants can be used to replace lost rear molars under the right conditions. If you are interested in learning more about this treatment option, contact our office to ask any questions you may have or to schedule a consultation.