Dental implants are one of the most successful treatments in all of dentistry. At least 93% of dental implants last 20 years or more, according to long-term studies. But the current level of success doesn’t mean that we’re content with the way things are. Your Wichita Falls implant dentists Dr. James Green and Dr. Dustin Van Tassell at StarImage Dentistry keep seeking ways to make the procedure more successful until we achieve a 100% survival rate.

One thing we know is that bone augmentation, also known as bone grafting, may lead to better success rates.

20 Years, 3000 patients, 10,000 Implants

There are many problems with studying the long-term success rates of dental implants. One of the biggest is simply designing studies that are long enough to get an accurate picture. That’s why studies that are 20 years or longer are so valuable to us.

But when studies get long, they sometimes fall prey to another difficulty: having enough patients. Many studies of dental implants rely on just a handful of patients. So when we have a study that utilizes all the patients in three private practices for this time period, it’s even more valuable.

The population for this study included 3095 patients (1693 of whom were women) who received a total of 10,158 dental implants. The average age of the patients was 52.4 at the time of implantation. Even though they were handled at three different practices, all patients received a standardized follow-up care, including a checkup three months after placement and yearly evaluations.

Although follow-up for this study was up to 20 years, most patients had much shorter follow-up periods. Ten-year follow-up was available for only 14.1% of patients, and 15 year follow-up was available for only 2.7% of patients.

Bone augmentation was used for 58.3% of procedures. Over the years, patients received many different types of bone graft materials, including their own bone, and a variety of 13 different commercial bone graft materials.

Bone Augmentation Improved Survival Rates

The overall survival rates for this study were in line with other studies: 95.5% overall, and 98.1% for single-unit implants. Single-unit implants replace just a single missing tooth with a single implant and a single crown.

Bone augmentation led to significantly increased survival rates. Implants without augmentation had a survival rate of 94.3%, while implants with augmentation had a survival rate of 96.3%. The disparity was a little smaller for single-unit implants but still significant (97.1% vs. 98.8%).

The potential benefit for bone augmentation must be weighed against the additional cost of the procedure, but in many cases, bone augmentation just makes sense. It helps prepare the site for the dental implant, and if it improves long-term success rates it seems like a good choice.

Updated Analysis Confirms High Success Rate

It would be nice if the researchers published an updated paper with even longer follow-up data to extend their findings. Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to be the case. There has been nothing in the last six years to contradict the findings of the above study, though. In fact, a recent analysis that includes the above results underscores the point: bone augmentation helps improve the survival rate of dental implants. 

In this analysis, dental implant survival rates using bone augmentation ranged from 96% to 98%. Outstanding results that show the procedure can help dental implants achieve the highest possible success rates. 

Why You Might Want Bone Augmentation

Not everyone needs bone augmentation for their dental implant procedure. However, during your consultation Wichita Falls implant dentists Dr. Green and Dr. Van Tassell might recommend bone augmentation in your case if you have:

  • Lost bone to resorption
  • Bone defects related to trauma
  • Experienced bone infections
  • Less bone in the right spot for dental implants

The alveolar ridge is a bone structure with one function: support your teeth. When you lose one or more teeth, your body deems the bone unnecessary, and removes it to use the resources elsewhere. You may lose as much as 25% of the bone from this structure in the first year after losing a tooth, so if it’s been a while, there may not be much bone left. 

Trauma to the jawbone can cause defects that will make it hard to secure your dental implants. Bone augmentation can repair these defects to help secure your implant. 

Gum disease is the leading cause of both tooth loss and dental implant failure because it can attack the bone that supports teeth and implants. If you’ve had gum disease in the past, your bones might still bear the marks from the infection. Bone augmentation will restore your lost bone so it can support implants. 

Usually, we put dental implants where your teeth used to be. However, sometimes it makes sense to put implants somewhere else. We might use a bone graft to build up the bone in this place to give good support. 

What Is the Right Dental Implant Procedure for You?

During your dental implant consultation at our Wichita Falls office, we will talk about your options and help you decide which is best for you. Our CT-guided implant process lets us look at your bone before we perform surgery. Cone beam CT will construct a 3D model of your bone, evaluating not just the presence of bone, but the density of bone so we’ll know if you need a bone graft. Sometimes we will recommend a separate bone augmentation procedure, allowing several months for the graft to heal before placing dental implants. Other times, we can perform a bone graft at the time of dental implant surgery. 

To talk to an implant dentist about the best dental implant procedure for you, please call 940-322-2252 today for an appointment with StarImage Dentistry in Wichita Falls, TX.