What if I don’t have enough bone for a dental implant?

Why it happens
If you lose a tooth, the bone in that area will gradually start to shrink, while the other http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-photo-seniors-image11846925areas stay intact. There are many reasons why people loose teeth. It can be caused by some of the following:

  • Periodontal (gum) disease
  • Dental caries (cavities) and infection
  • Injury or trauma
  • A defect in development

Dental implants can be very useful when:

  • we would otherwise have to crown (cap) healthy teeth
  • A denture or bridge would be difficult or sometimes impossible because there are no suitable teeth or gums for support.

If you have to lose a tooth, it is very important to prevent bone loss. Dental implants preserve your jaw bone and prevent the natural shrinkage that WILL occur with bone loss.  A bridge or removable partial denture does not preserve or maintain your bone.
You’ll need to have a thorough examination by your dentist, to determine how much bone volume and density you have in the area of the missing tooth.

There must be enough bone in order to support your implant. If you don’t have enough bone, the bone can be rebuilt.  If you don’t have enough gum, that can be added back too. This must be carried out before implants can be placed. The treatment is called Bone augmentation and has been used successfully for years.

What options are available to me?

There is no reason anyone cannot get implants because of bone loss today.  There are a variety of techniques to achieve this. Your dentist will select one depending on the type, location and number of implants to be used. It is important that your dentist discus’s all of the options available to you.


This procedure involves grafting (adding) bone or bonelike materials to the jaw.

An excellent choice for a bone graft is your own bone. This will most likely come from your chin or ramus (the back part of your lower jaw). If your dentist is unable to get enough bone from these areas, bone may have to be obtained from your hip or shin bone (tibia) instead. The hip is considered to be a better source simply because the hip bone can provide a large amount of bone. However, this will require a hospital stay and general anesthesia. Furthermore, this does not increase your risk of hip fracture.

If you don’t like the idea of having bone removed from your body to be placed in your jaw, there are other options available. Materials can be sourced from the bone of human cadavers or cows. In addition to this, newer products and materials also can be used for bone grafting.

SINUS LIFT (or elevation)

It increases the height of your upper jaw by filling part of your maxillary sinus with bone. The maxillary sinus is the area above your jaw on either side of your nose above the back teeth. This is done when the back part of the upper jaw does not have enough bone to allow implants to be placed.


This is another type of bone graft and is only carried out when the jaw is not wide enough to support implants. Some dentists will place implants directly after this procedure. Others will wait several months for the ridge to heal. This procedure, called a split ridge technique, can be done in the dental office under local anesthesia.


This technique will be used most often to increase the height of bone that is too short. A surgeon makes cuts in your jawbone to separate a piece of bone from the rest of the jaw. A titanium device inserted with pins or screws holds the piece of bone apart from the rest of the jawbone. Each day, you unscrew the device a small amount. Over time, this makes the space between the piece of bone and the jawbone taller. The area between the pieces gradually fills in with bone.


“Distraction” refers to the process of separating the two pieces of bone. “Osteogenesis” refers to the forming of new bone. Distraction osteogenesis is used more often to make the jawbone taller, but it can be used to increase the bone in any direction. The procedure is becoming more common today.

Implant Procedure 

Dental implant surgery is usually carried out under local anesthesia (numbing the area Dental Implantswhere the implant is to be placed) and is a relatively comfortable procedure. You may experience some minor vibration during preparation of the implant (bone) site, but it is quite tolerable. Since there are no open wounds following implant surgery and it is minimally invasive, there is little post-operative discomfort. You will be given a course of antibiotics to take home and use over the following week.

A single implant usually needs to be left for a period of two to four months to fuse to the bone before a crown can be attached. The healing time will vary from person to person, but ultimately depends upon the bone density at the site of the lost tooth; the more dense the bone, the quicker the healing. The next step is to make a crown to fit on the implant that will look, and function exactly like a normal tooth.

Success rates

Dental implants traditionally have a very high success rate. Research concludes that over 95% of procedures are successful — the highest of any tooth-replacement option. Even in areas of low bone density, success is quite common. A successful and functional implant restoration can last a lifetime.

Although it is rare, an implant can fail. There can be complications with the implant fusing to the bone properly or it can come loose from it for a variety of reasons.

Sometimes, it’s the number of implants that’s at fault: too few implants are placed to handle too much stress — a situation known as overload. Sometimes an implant-supported tooth can stick up a little higher than the other teeth, meaning it will be subject to more biting and chewing force. This is why it’s so important to choose a qualified professional to install your implants.


  • The success rate for bone grafts in the jaws for the purpose of placing dental implants is very high. However, there is always a chance that the bone graft will fail, even if your own bone was used. Bone grafts are not rejected like organ transplants. Dentists don’t know why some bone grafts fail – it could be because the patient is a heavy smoker, or because of a medical condition. It is important to be aware that there is a higher risk of failure in implants placed into grafted bone rather than natural bone. However, in the event of a failed graft, this graft will simply be will be removed. Once the area has healed, your dentist may choose to place a second graft.
  • As mentioned above, there are certain health conditions and habits that have a bearing whether a dental implant is successful or not. For example, if you have uncontrolled diabetes, your ability to heal in general will be affected. This will cause complications with the implant attaching to the bone tissue.
  • If you are a smoker, this can compromise the success of a dental implant as it reduces blood supply for healing, (though smoking does not disqualify you from receiving implants).
  • The osteoporosis drug Fosamax, if taken for more than three years, can compromise bone healing. Osteoporosis itself can affect bone density, making it difficult for implants to be strong enough to handle the normal functional stresses associated with biting and chewing, for example.
  • Oral hygiene is particularly important with implants. Failure to remove food particles and plaque from the gums near the implant on a daily basis can lead to a bacterial infection, known as peri-implantitis. This infection can destroy bone and loosen the implant.
  • Patient may experience pain, swelling and bruising in the area where the graft (bone) has been taken from. If bone has been taken from the hip, they may find it uncomfortable to walk for two to four weeks. Swelling in the jaw normally lasts for about one to two weeks.

Implants are normally placed by dental surgical specialists (periodontists and oral surgeons) or general dentists who have undertaken special training in implantology.

Your general dentist is the place to start!

Perfect Smile Spa based in Hornchurch Essex is a Leading Cosmetic Dentistry practice and is dedicated to PAINLESS dentistry.

Call us for a free consultation on 01708 442 114 or email care@perfectsmilespa.co.uk

What if I don’t have enough bone for a dental implant? was last modified: June 29th, 2018 by Dr Jas Sagoo

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29 thoughts on “What if I don’t have enough bone for a dental implant?

  1. Good Article. A dental implants is replacement for the tooth roots and secured in the jawbone.A bone grafting is also a surgical process for used to fix problems with bones or joints.These treatments are providing in the LBR dental implants also there implants services are Dental implants,Bone grafting ans Affordable implants etc..,

  2. I’m 67 and in good health. Several years ago my teeth began to break off. We decided it was occurring because of medicine I was on. I finally had my last 6 teeth pulled and opted for full dentures. If I knew the trouble I was going to have I may have tried to save a couple in case I needed some teeth to attach implants to. We discovered I don’t have enough bone to support dentures. I have been to a few dentists and some who specialize in dentures. The answer is always the same, I don’t have enough bone and therefore enough suction to hold my dentures in place, even if I apply some of the denture adhesive. I can no longer go on dinner dates, or anything that might cause the dentures to loosen. I keep thinking with all the medical advances we have had since I was fitted for dentures. The medical field can do marvelous procedures with the heart, the brain and other organs. Trauma Units save numerous patients that would have certainly died. All I’m asking, is there anything we could possibly do. Or do you know anyone who could help. With my families linage, I feel I could have 15-20 years minimum left to factor in. I’m really not enjoying my golden years. Can you or do you know someone that can help me?

    1. Hey James,

      Thanks for contacting Us. Please let us know your phone no as well. So, our staff will contact you directly.

      Kind Regards,
      Perfect Smile Spa

    2. Hello James! Have you found a solution to your dental problem? My mom (65) is experiencing the same problem and feelings of desperation. Would be great to hear how you are doing now 3 years after the post.

    1. Hi Joann,

      It will depend upon several conditions. We will contact you to discuss this in more details.

      Kind Regards,

      Perfect Smile Spa Team

  3. I am 67 years old and had a 4 tooth bridge 30 years ago which is now a little loose. my dentist tells me i do not have sufficient bone to enable me to have dental implants, he is offering me a plate which i find unacceptable, can you help

    1. Hi Janet,

      Thanks for contacting us. We would surly help you in this regards. We will contact you through mail or phone call.

  4. I am due to have all teeth removed as I’ve been losing them, after I had X-rays I was told that I had bone loss, I really would prefer a second opinion as implants would be far better, Could you possibly help?

    1. Hi Leanne,

      Thank you very much for your enquiry. Our staff will contact you directly with complete details ASAP. Also you can directly call us on 01708 442 114.

  5. Hi,

    I am considering having my top teeth replaced as I only have 6 front incisors left. I have been to see about having treatment which replaces teeth in a day and have been assured this is possible. I have little bone left both upper and lower jaws at the back and no molars.

    I am worried that what bone is left will continue to deteriorate and the same will happen to any implants I have. What are my options please?

  6. Hi I have complete bone loss now I have already lost several teeth and the rest of my teeth are all pretty loose now it’s only a matter of time before my entire upper teeth fall out now, I have had x Ray’s on my jaw and have been told I have no bone left at all. Is there a solution to this or am I just destined to become toothless now?? This as put quite a strain on my life and it’s so hard to eat now as my top teeth are so loose now, I moved area also so I don’t have a dentist and I’m also in low paid job please help x

  7. Hey Jas.

    I just had surgery for maxillary sinus Cancer. My entire upper left jaw and teeth are gone. I will be undergoing radiation next. Is there any hope that I will ever have new jaw bone grafted, and functioning teeth implanted?

  8. I have less than 5 percent bone left teeth are falling out on weekly basis I’m only just 50 I don’t like the thought of full dentures can anything be done

  9. I am a 56 year old woman and currently have a flexible partial bridge on top which anchors to my eye teeth. My 6 remaining front teeth are very loose and I know i have no bone. Had grafting /5 years ago which took nicely using Cadava and synthetic bone I am
    Willing to settle for a full top denture and would love implants. Can my bone be rebuilt, again, allowing me to get implants on my entire top.

    1. HI Regina,

      Thank you very much for your enquiry. Our staff will contact you directly with complete details ASAP. Also you can directly call us on 01708 442 114.

      Dr Jas

  10. I have been told I do not have enough bone density to have an implant for one of my back teeth. Is there anything you can do to help. I already have two implants where one required a bone graft, but have been told no for this one.

    1. Hi Michelle,

      Thank you very much for your enquiry. Our staff will contact you directly with complete details ASAP. Also you can directly call us on 01708 442 114.

      1. I had all my teeth removed about 12 years ago but my face looks sucked in now even with my dentures in you can tell I’m wearing false teeth. For the past few years I’ve been really depressed about it, I’m only 44 years old and I’m all about taking good care of how I look but I can’t hide my face I can’t smile and can’t eat in public, I used to be out going and bubbly nowadays I don’t want to move out of my house I feel suicidal because having this ugly mouth is all think and worry about. I’m hoping that you could help me, I would love to have all my teeth restored but it depends on how much this would cost me , even if I could have about 6 at the top and 6 at the bottom , I’m desperate for someone to help me please!!!

  11. I am 22 years old and still have many baby teeth! I have gaps ands a underbite. I have been thinking about the process of having permanent dentures. But I don’t know If I have enough bone support for it. It’s makes me very insecure and sad because I am very young and have this ugly smile. I just need a start somewhere with this and would love some opinions or options.

    1. Hi Maryanne,

      Thank you very much for your enquiry. Our staff will contact you directly with complete details ASAP. Also, you can directly call us on 01708 442 114.

  12. Hi
    Today I went to the dentist for a consultation for denture implants. The dentist told me that I was not able to get implants on upper due tom bone loss. I have been hiding out from the real world because of my missing teeth. My Parents both and family members all have dentures I have always been afraid of the dentist since I had two wisdom teeth pulled. I want to start dating and loving myself again and looking in the mirror with a nice smile. Can anyone please help me . By the way I am 44 years old.

    1. Hi Tammie,

      Thank you very much for your enquiry. Our staff will contact you directly with complete details ASAP. Also, you can directly call us on 01708 442 114.

  13. My oral surgeon told me he would not recommend a second implant that is 20 years old as to much bone loss. He does recommend a a bridge as to rebuild the bone has a 20% chance. What is your experience. I hate the idea oh abridge!!

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