If you are planning to have some teeth removed or you have some missing teeth, your dentist may recommend a procedure to help build up your jaw bone, especially if you would like to have dental implants; this is a dental bone graft procedure.
Bone graft may also be recommended even if you are not having implants placed because it helps to rebuild your jawbone to help with the fitting of your denture or if you have a missing tooth that you’re not ready to replace yet. Dental bone grafts can help stop, and sometimes reverse, bone loss in the jaw, with a minimally invasive surgical procedure that can have you back to work the next day.
What are dental bone grafts?
In short, dental bone grafts are a small transplant of tissue that holds space in your jawbone while your natural bone regenerate. Most people undergo this procedure when they want to get dental implants, but they don’t have enough bone for the implants to bond to.
Dental bone grafts are not teeth and they do not act as teeth, but they give a replacement tooth a strong foundation to hold on to if you choose to get an implant.
What are dental bone grafts made of?
When most people think of bone grafting, they assume that the bone is always your own and it comes from a different part of your body. Dental bone grafts can be made from your own bone and tissue, but they can also be made from human or animal tissues and some are fully synthetic and made in a lab.
You should speak with your dentist about what type of bone graft will work best for you, but keep in mind that if you choose to use your own tissues, there will likely be a second surgery necessary to extract this bone from another part of your body.
The dental bone graft procedure
Once your dentist takes radiographs and analyzes the extent of the bone loss in your jaw, they will discuss your options and preferences to see if you’re a candidate for a dental bone graft procedure.
At your bone grafting appointment, your dentist will administer a local anesthetic to numb your mouth to ensure that you do not feel any pain.
Once you’re comfortable, the dentist will place a tiny incision in the gums to allow them to pull the gum tissue back to access the jawbone. Once the area is thoroughly cleaned and disinfected, the dentist will place the bone graft material into the pocket of the gum to secure it to the bone. They will sometimes place a very thin membrane over the top to ensure the most successful healing after the surgery.
Finally, the original gum tissue will be put back and stitched up over the top of the graft and you’ll be on your way to healing right away.
Dental Bone Graft Healing Process
Once your anesthetic wears off, you may experience some swelling, redness, and soreness at the surgical site. You also may have small fragments of bone falling out of the graft, and this is totally normal. However, if the loss of bone fragments seems excessive, you should reach out to your dentist immediately.
There shouldn’t be much soreness or pain after two weeks. The healing may take as little as 3-6 months but may take as long as 12 months depending on your body’s natural healing response, the amount of graft placed, and the type of graft material used.
This means that if you are planning to get dental implants, having a dental bone graft procedure can increase the timeline in which you can have your implants placed. If you include the healing after the implant procedure, it could take up to 12-18 months for you to have a new implant-retained denture.
When you should contact your dentist
If you are experiencing bleeding, extreme pain, or excessive swelling of your gums following a dental bone graft procedure, you should call your dentist right away.
If your swelling and discomfort lasts for more than two weeks or if you notice that your incision site is opening, this may mean you are having a complication with your procedure and you need to go to the dentist immediately.
Signs of infection such as a high fever or pus at the site of the graft will also require immediate medical attention as these may be signs that you have an infection or that your graft is not healing. If your graft procedure is unsuccessful, you may have to consider an alternative to dental implants, but this is a decision you will have to make with your doctor.
How to ensure a successful dental bone graft
Always follow the detailed after-care instructions given to you by your dentist. Remember to take your prescribed medications and choose soft and easy-to-chew foods for a couple of weeks after your procedure.
DO NOT SMOKE anything after a dental bone grafting procedure. Smoking anything will be extremely detrimental to your healing and will drastically increase the chances of a failed graft. Tobacco and smoke will rapidly break down gum tissues and can cause even more tooth loss, leading to more bone loss, and more need for dental work in the future.
Be careful not to scrub your incision site with a rough bristle toothbrush and only use mouthwash or tooth whitening agents if your dentist approves of it.
You Deserve to Love Your Smile!
Not everyone will need a dental bone graft for tooth implants, but if you do, you can be sure that Affordable Dentures & Implants will do our best to ensure a seamless procedure as possible. Contact your local office to begin your journey to the happy and healthy smile that you’ve always dreamed of.