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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.
Most patients do not qualify to be candidates for placement of dental implants, since these implants need durable bone to hold them into place.
Some cases of dental implants require a dental bone graft. If the patient does not have a sufficient amount of bone for the procedure. Luckily today, we have the ability to grow bone where needed.
Dental bone grafting not only gives us the opportunity to place implants of proper length and width. It also creates the chance to restore functionality and esthetic appearance of the mouth and teeth.
[Related: Oral Surgery]
What is Bone Grafting?
If a patient has insufficient bone mass, it could prove to be a problematic site for dental procedure. This is where bone grafting comes to play.
A dental bone graft is used to restore the lost bone dimension when the jaw becomes too thin to receive implants. Excess bone material is typically taken from another place on your jaw or body. Dentist may also obtain it from a tissue bank or from other bone substitutes.
Bone grafting is typically done separately and several months in advance of the patient’s dental implant surgical procedure.
[Related: Gum Grafts]
Types of Dental Bone Graft Procedures
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.
This type of bone graft is placed immediately onto the empty socket after a tooth extraction. Doing this prevents the sides of the open socket from caving in. It can also be referred to as ridge preservation.
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.
Periodontal Bone Graft
When a patient is dealing with a loose tooth due to gum disease deterioration, they might opt for a periodontal bone graft. Periodontal bone grafts are placed around an existing tooth to support it and reduce mobility.
Bone Graft Growth and Healing
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]
Post-Operative Care for Bone Grafting
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. 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!