Which Procedure Is Better For Me: Bone Grafting Or Zygomatic Implants?

 In Cosmetic Dentistry, Dental Implants, Dental Services

Do you have any missing or no upper teeth for many years?  

Or are you on the brink of facing an extreme upper bone jaw loss? 

It can be a tricky affair to figure out the right treatment procedure for a degenerating set of teeth, jaws and gums. It’s also challenging to place a fixed prosthetic device because of your severe bone resorption condition. Because there is inadequate bone in your upper jaw which is necessary for good anchorage for implants, the right treatment options needs to be assessed carefully. 

We will break down two major treatment procedures for your deteriorating oral health: 

  • Bone grafting: A bone graft repairs your jaw, and gets it ready for traditional implants.
  • Zygomatic implants: Zygomatic implants offer a more supportive option for implants.

You need to consider certain factors about the two procedures before making the final decision on the best treatment option for you. 

What Is Bone Grafting? 

Bone resorption or bone atrophy is the wasting away of the bone tissue because of cell degeneration. It usually occurs after tooth extraction. Bone resorption can also become worse with the use of dentures for many years. Patients who have this problem don’t have the sufficient quality or volume of the bone that’s required for the fixture of implants. 

One solution to fix the bone atrophy problem is doing the sinus bone augmentation using bone grafting procedures. 

Bone grafting is one of the popular procedures whenever there is bone loss in your jaw. We also perform bone grafting when you want to rebuild your jaw before getting dentures. 

We perform the bone grafting in four ways:  

  1. Autogenous: We take a piece of your bone from another part of your body like the hip, and graft it into the affected part of the jaw.
  2. Allograft: We get the bone graft material from a human tissue bank.
  3. Xenograft: We get the bone graft material from an animal tissue bank.
  4. Alloplast: The bone graft material is made of synthetic material and placed in your jaw. 

Bone grafts act as a scaffold, adding density and volume to the affected areas of your jaw, and encouraging your own bone tissue to grow and regenerate. Sometimes, your dentist can combine the dental bone graft platelet-rich plasma (PRP) extracted from a sample of your own blood to promote further healing and tissue regeneration. 

Usually, your dentist will wait until the bone graft heals completely before placing the dental implants. In some rare cases, they may place both the bone graft and dental implant depending on the patient’s condition.

What Are Zygomatic Implants?

If your dentist has advised you to go for implants but they also diagnosed you as unsuitable for traditional implants because of the severe bone loss in your upper jaw, then zygomatic implants could be your solution. 

Zygomatic implants, also called ‘Zygoma’, is an alternative treatment for the rehabilitation of your resorbed upper maxillary ridges (i.e. the lack of bone volume in your upper jaw). Earlier, if patients had a missing tooth or wore ill-fitting dentures for a prolonged period, they had only one solution: Bone grafting or bone augmentation. 

We also use zygomatic implants for the dental rehabilitation of patients with 

  • Gum or periodontal disease
  • Severe bone resorption or atrophy
  • Increased bone loss with advancing age 
  • Severe infections that destruct the jawbone
  • Cleft palate

You could be a suitable candidate for zygomatic implants if your jawbone isn’t too soft or thick enough for traditional implants. Because there’s not enough or no bone under your nose,  we fix the zygomatic implants to your cheekbones (zygomatic bone), bypassing the affected jaw area. 

Zygomatic implants eliminate the need for the bone grafting procedure and help provide support for your upper jaw teeth (maxillary teeth), bridges and dentures. They help reconstruct your upper set of teeth when your upper jaw bone density is reduced and unsuitable for the fixture of the conventional ‘root form’ dental implants.

Here’s how zygomatic implants work. 

Zygomatic implants are a shift from the traditional treatment procedures for your teeth. It adopts a much longer artificial tooth than a conventional dental implant because they need to be fixed in your cheek bones (zygoma). We insert these implants into the jawbone (alveolar bone) at the back of the upper jaw, as it is highly prone to bone resorption. These implants fuse to the zygoma. We perform the treatment under anesthesia. 

The zygomatic implants procedure focuses on drilling or anchoring into the cheekbone (zygomatic bone) because of its greater bone density than the upper jaw. The sound foundation for the zygoma implants helps spread the stress across the broad area and permits the immediate placement of dental bridges (fixed replacement teeth) successfully. Since the zygoma is a highly dense bone and provides excellent support for your implants, your dentist can even replace an entire arch at a go.

Since we immediately place the dental bridges, there is no need to wear dentures or be without teeth for any period. Your dentist can place either 2 (one each side) or 4 (two each side) implants to support the dental bridges (partial or full) depending on your oral condition. The whole zygomatic dental implant procedure takes about three hours. 

Zygomatic implants are a safe and predictable procedure. But it is not as common as a traditional dental implant treatment. Only a specialist surgeon or dental surgeon who is highly skilled and experienced in the Zygomatic implants technique can perform it.

If you have a sinus problem, make sure to inform your dentist about your condition. Zygomatic implants are safe for patients with sinus problems. But special care needs to be taken to ensure that your maxillary sinus is disease free before you start the procedure, else complications can arise.

The recovery period for the zygomatic implants procedure is around 2-3 days and you should be able to return to your normal schedule within a week. Your gums will heal within 10-14 days. But the zygomatic implants will not be stable for around five months, as the bone around the implants will still be tender. The entire healing process can take around 6 – 8 months from the surgery with the use of a provisional restoration to the insertion of the definitive restoration. 

Which Is Better: Bone Grafting Vs Zygomatic Implants?

We discuss the various factors to be taken into consideration for bone grafting and zygomatic implants before you can make a decision. 

What you should know about bone grafting: 

  • Bone grafting requires two or three invasive surgeries for autogenous bone harvesting before we place the provisional prosthesis. 
  • The provisional restoration period is anywhere between 7-13 months. The definitive restoration can be anywhere from 9 to 18 months.
  • Bone grafting is a relatively costly procedure than zygomatic implants because of the additional dental surgeries which are necessary to prevent the further deterioration of your jaw and to get dental implants. 
  •  If the bone graft is rejected, it can be a painful experience. 

What you should know about zygomatic implants: 

  • We perform zygomatic implants in one surgery.
  • You don’t need bone grafting, and sinus lifts if you get zygomatic implants. 
  • You can enjoy your new set of teeth right away after the treatment.  
  • Zygomatic implants heal faster than bone grafting, and the healing process can take up to eight months.
  • Zygomatic implants are low maintenance and can last for a lifetime, provided you maintain great oral hygiene, and avoid infections.
  • Zygomatic implants are very durable, made of titanium that resists decay or breaking. 
  • Zygomatic implants are biocompatible and designed for the body to accept them.
  • Your dentist can also combine zygomatic implants with one or more traditional root form implants or dental implants in the front area of your jaw. 
  • When you factor in the cost, it is in favor of the zygomatic implant procedure because, besides fewer surgeries, less material and time are required. 
  • Zygomatic implants have been in use since the late 1980s, and have a very high successful rate.

The Final Verdict

There are many clear advantages of zygomatic implants over bone grafting. On the whole, Zygoma Implants offer beautiful, natural-looking new teeth with minimum surgical trauma and maximum oral function.

And if you’re wondering if you can get both the procedures done, the answer is yes. You can get both zygomatic implants and bone draft if you want to keep your jaw shape and density but don’t want to drill for your dental implants. However, you cannot do both the procedures at the same time. 

But, getting both a zygomatic Implant and a bone draft is not common practice, as people get zygomatic implants to avoid bone grafts, and having both these procedures means it takes a longer healing period and can be on the expensive side. 

We Want To See You Smile

Our dentists at Blue Turtle Dental, offer the best dental implants in Palo Alto, CA, and can help you find the right dental procedure to improve your overall oral health.

Contact the best dental care in Palo Alto CA, to schedule your initial consultation on the best dental procedure for your degenerating oral health.

(Disclaimer: We routinely draw upon public health resources to inform our write-ups. Information in this article may be drawn up from multiple public health sources, including:

American Dental Association’s MouthHealthy.org

California Dental Association

American Dental Association’s Action for Dental Health

Centers for Disease Control & Prevention



Laser Dentistry

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