Hundreds of dental implant recipients have replaced missing teeth with jawbone-anchored tooth implants. Unlike a dental bridge, a tooth implant consists of a titanium post inserted into the jaw bone. The bone meshes with the post to create a strong base for the natural-looking prosthetic tooth and crown that attaches to the post.
Dental implants are usually the ideal restoration for people who want to replace a missing tooth. There is a problem, however, if the jawbone is too thin at the implant site.
When a tooth is extracted, the bone loses the blood circulation at the former site of the root. Consequently, bone recession often occurs. If the recession is extensive, there is not enough bone to hold the dental implant post.
Bone grafting can augment the bone at the implant site and provide the bone density necessary for a successful implant. This is usually effective, but it does require time for the new bone to generate. A new discovery may provide a quicker solution for regenerating bone.
Researchers at the Georgia Health Sciences University College of Dental Medicine have identified a protein that quickly stimulates the production of new bone. The research team, led by Dr. Ulf M.E. Wikesjo, implanted bone morphogenetic protein in test subjects and discovered that “more new bone formed within four weeks than with conventional bone grafting.”
This protein will require extensive testing before it is available. However, I am pleased at the prospect of an additional method for making dental implants possible for my patients with missing teeth and jawbone recession.