Tooth loss has a far reaching effect on your appearance, dental, and overall health. Over a period of time, the part of the jawbone associated with missing teeth atrophies, or is reabsorbed. When this occurs, the reabsorption often leaves the mouth in poor quality. The quality of bone left behind is rarely suitable for placement of dental implants.
In these situations, most patients do not qualify to be candidates for placement of dental implants, since these implants need durable bone to hold them into place.
Today, we have the ability to grow bone where needed through bone grafts. This not only gives us the opportunity to place implants of proper length and width, as well as gives us a chance to restore functionality and esthetic appearance of the mouth and teeth.
[Related: Oral Surgery]
Bone grafting is used to restore the lost bone dimension when the jaw becomes too thin to receive implants. This procedure can be done at the same time as a tooth extraction which is referred to as site preservation for a future implant. Or, if the tooth has been gone for a significant amount of time, bone grafting can be done to build back the ridge where the bone has been lost. This is known as ridge augmentation.
[Related: Gum Grafts]
Sometimes when you get an implant in the upper jaw, you will need a procedure called a “sinus augmentation,” or “sinus lift.” A sinus lift is needed when your sinus sits low and the amount of bone between the implant needs to be and your sinus is located is too little. In order to get room for the implant, bone grafting is used to lift the sinus up higher, and create more height in the bone for the implant to be placed without harming the sinus.
Once the bone graft material is placed under the gum, the site heals much like an arm or leg in a cast. With proper care, in approximately 4 to 6 months, the bone becomes strong enough to secure dental implants.
In order to minimize patient discomfort, doctors often use sterilized or synthetic bone which simulates actual bone to grow into the repair site. This process is effective, very safe, and avoids having to use a second surgical site. In addition, special membranes may be utilized that dissolve under the gum and protect the bone graft.
[Related: Options for Replacing Missing Teeth]
With either bone grafting for site preservation, for ridge augmentation, or for sinus lifts, your post operative instructions are the same and are critical for the success of the grafting and for a positive experience.
After discharge, rest is recommended for one day and limited physical activity for one week to allow the gum to heal and minimize bleeding. And as always, no smoking!
You may feel slightly sore in the area the graft is placed for a few days, though pain is not usually reported by our patients. Remember, everyone does heal differently. Then, within a few months, you’ll be ready for your implants!
Are you interested in learning more about bone grafts, find out about our other dental services, or schedule a consultation to get started on your dental journey? Contact Cascadia Dental Specialists today!