Can You Get Implants With Bone Loss? What if It’s Severe?

Medically accurate 3D rendering of a mandibular jaw bone recession after losing molars teeth

When consulting with your dentist on dental replacement options, one thing to consider is the suitability of the options for your specific condition. Dental implants are currently a popular tooth replacement option, but can they work in a case featuring severe bone loss? 

You can get dental implants even with bone loss. With zygomatic dental implants, dental implantation is still possible with bone loss. In the case of severe bone loss, bone grafting and augmentation may be required to pull off the tooth replacement procedure. 

Bone loss, whether severe or mild, should not overly limit your tooth replacement options. This article will highlight several other factors that you need to consider to ensure the procedure is safe, even with severe bone loss. Keep reading!

Dental Bone Loss

Dental bone loss can be described as shrinkage or reduction in the supporting bone around your teeth (bone recession). This causes the teeth to become loose and mobile. Dental bone loss can have a variety of causes, including:

Where bone loss occurs, the gums pull back and reveal a more significant portion of the teeth, usually out of view. This shrinkage is often accompanied by bleeding and swelling, gaps between the teeth, and bad breath. 

Healthy tooth and unhealthy tooth with periodontitis with gum inflammation infographic

Severe bone loss in the jaw has various characteristic symptoms. These include:

  • Brittle bones that fracture easily
  • Chewing problems
  • Speaking problems
  • Persistent toothache
  • Facial pain
  • Collapse of facial features

Bone loss is treatable and, with the proper technique, reversible. However, if the remainder of the bone is not stimulated by the treatment or used enough, jawbone loss can arise, leading to deterioration. Thus, it’s often best to settle for a replacement option that stimulates the jawbone.

Treatment Options for Dental Bone Loss

The most common treatment options for dental bone loss include:

  • Bone grafting: This is a lengthy procedure where the lost bone is replaced, and new bone growth is stimulated. 
  • Sinus lifts: This procedure is often carried out alongside bone grafting to allow easier placement of dental implants. It provides a base to affix the dental implants you need to smile, speak and chew again.
  • Jawbone reconstruction: This is a procedure usually reserved for those with severe trauma to the jaw or in cases with malignant growths.

Before getting dental implants amidst bone loss, your surgeon may suggest these treatments to ensure the implants are secure and improve your general quality of life. 

Risk Factors for Periodontal Disease

For bone loss solely caused by periodontal disease, your dentist may recommend that you treat it first before moving on to tooth replacement options.

In periodontal disease, the bone supporting the teeth is gradually eaten away by bacteria often lodged in the plaques and cavities. Some lifestyle choices and nutritional deficiencies significantly increase the risk of periodontal disease and, by extension, bone loss. These risk factors could eventually interfere with the success of a dental implant procedure.

The importance of oral hygiene in preventing periodontal or gum disease cannot be overemphasized. Other than poor oral hygiene, additional risk factors that predispose you to periodontal disease include the following:


Smoking has been implicated as a leading promoter of periodontal disease. It increases smokers’ susceptibility to the infection and heightens the damage level of the disease to the gums. Adults who smoke are three times as likely to develop periodontitis as those who do not smoke. 

Studies have shown that the risk of dental implant failure among smokers is considerably higher compared to non-smokers. Dental implant failure is also proven to be twice as likely to occur in smokers than in non-smokers. Incorporating lifestyle choices devoid of smoking will go a long way in reducing the likelihood of getting the disease and dental bone loss. 


A diet full of sugars and low in calcium and vitamins will make you prone to periodontal disease. Conversely, a healthy, balanced diet will reduce the chances of periodontal disease and dental implantation failure. 

One way to urge your body to prevent bone loss is by eating foods rich in vitamins and minerals. This way, even dental implants will serve you better.

Tooth Replacement Options for Patients With Bone Loss

Bone loss is a step away from tooth loss, so patients with both must find replacement options best suited to their needs. Dentures, dental bridges, and dental implants are the options usually offered to those suffering from tooth loss, each with its accompanying pros and cons.


Dentures are removable devices used to fully or partially replace missing teeth and are attached to the teeth adjacent to the missing teeth. While dentures can help fill the gaps created by missing teeth, they do not particularly stimulate the jawbone. This is because they are not anchored to the jaw itself, which can inadvertently worsen bone loss.

People already suffering from dental bone loss may want to find other options so as not to worsen it. Implant-supported dentures are an increasingly popular variant of traditional dentures. They are supported by implants lodged in the jawbones, making them suitable for people suffering from tooth loss.

Dental Bridges

Dental bridges are essentially fixed partial dentures. They fill in gaps by attaching to teeth before and after the gaps. Traditional dental bridges do not address bone loss, but implant-supported ones do.

This is why implant-supported dental bridges are a safer alternative to traditional dental bridges for people suffering from bone loss. They are ideally replaced every ten to twelve years and can last up to fifteen years with proper maintenance.

Traditional Dental Implants

Dental implants are permanent tooth root replacements lodged in the jawbone beneath the gums. This sturdy option can anchor two to three teeth or even an entire arch of teeth, depending on the patient’s needs.

Because they are attached to the jawbone directly, dental implants stimulate bone growth. This makes them perfect for people experiencing bone loss. 

Zygomatic dental implants are best suited to people with bone loss who do not want to undergo bone grafting or sinus lifting procedures.

Zygomatic Dental Implantations

Zygomatic dental implantation involves anchoring teeth with long screw-like titanium or zirconia metal into the cheekbone instead of the jawbone. With this procedure, your teeth can be restored without bone grafting, even if you’ve experienced severe dental bone loss.

The zygomatic arch where the implants are placed is denser than the jawbone. This gives better support to the entire arch installed.

Pros of Zygomatic Dental Replacement

  • Less-invasive technique. Zygomatic implants are not as invasive or lengthy as bone grafting, sinus lifting, or jaw reconstruction.
  • Less painful. Zygomatic dental implants are less painful than other options.
  • Aesthetically pleasing. Zygomatic implants look natural, assuring you of a beautiful smile without worrying about further bone loss. Having zygomatic implants can help correct the collapse of facial features caused by bone loss.
  • Sturdy support. They are more secure as they are anchored in the denser bone of the automatic arch and less susceptible to bone loss.
  • Short recuperation period. It only takes a few hours to get zygomatic implants done and a couple of months to fully heal—a shorter period than other forms of tooth replacement. 
  • Permanent replacement. Dental implants are a permanent solution to teeth replacement. They do not have to be constantly adjusted like dentures or dental bridges and can last a lifetime if maintained properly.

Cons of Zygomatic Dental Implants

  • Not suitable for lower arch replacement. Zygomatic dental implants are only suitable for the replacement of upper teeth. For lower teeth restoration in people suffering severe bone loss, you may need a combination of zygomatic and traditional dental implants. 


You can get implants even with bone loss, as there are now dental procedures that can make that a reality. Even with severe bone loss, you can get tooth replacement options combined with implants to give you your smile back!

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