A dental implant is the most effective and durable replacement for a missing tooth. However, in some cases, it’s necessary to prepare your mouth for a dental implant. Since the implant is metal inserted into the jaw, the patient needs to have firm enough bone tissues to accommodate the metal. If the bone is gone altogether, your oral and maxillofacial surgeon will recommend adding a bone graft before implants.
Insufficient bone structure
Bones that support teeth are called alveolar bones. In the case of a broken tooth, the alveolar bone can be damaged or broken together with the tooth. Further, if your tooth was extracted, the alveolar bone beneath it will soon decay, since it doesn’t have a function anymore. The jawbone can also be too soft or not thick enough to hold the implant. In all these cases, your surgeon will suggest that he or she first add a bone graft and then move on with the dental implant procedure.
Different types of grafts
Not all bone grafts are the same. Depending on the condition of your gum and jaw, the surgeon can go for one of the following bone grafts.
If the alveolar bone under the missing tooth is still there, you’ll get a socket graft. It will preserve the alveolar bone and make it suitable for a dental implant.
Patients with more severe damage in the jawbone will need a block bone graft. It takes this name because surgeons take a small piece of bone from the root of your jaw and transplant it into the tooth socket. The block bone graft is then attached to the jawbone with titanium screws.
A lateral ridge preservation graft adds to the width of the jaw so that this structure becomes large enough for the dental implants.
If you’re a healthy person without any chronic health issues, all these bone grafts can be accepted from bones in your body.
For all these types of dental bone grafts, the healing period is between four and six months.
The bone grafting procedure
When the oral and maxillofacial surgeon opens your gum, he or she will screw the graft to your jaw. As in many other surgical procedures performed on a human body, they’ll use titanium screws. After the graft has been attached to your jaw, the surgeon will stitch up the incision, and you’ll go home. You won’t feel any pain during the surgery because you’ll to be sedated.
However, you may need to take some painkillers for the next day or two. Also, you’ll might get antibiotics to prevent infection.
After you get the bone graft, you must wait for the end of osseointegration, the process in which the living bone and the added structure grow together. This period isn’t the same for all patients that get a bone graft, especially if more than one graft has been installed.
If you don’t have enough natural bone structure in your tooth socket, your oral and maxillofacial surgeon will suggest that you get a bone graft. After you’ve received your graft, you need to wait for this piece and your bone to unite. There is no need of being afraid of this process. Just go to regular checkups, listen to your surgeon, and you won’t have any problems with your bone graft!