Bone grafting is often required before receiving dental implants. While bone grafting can seem scary, it is normally not as invasive as the patient expects going into the procedure. By understanding exactly what a bone grafting procedure entails, you can properly prepare and minimize any anxieties that may exist before the bone grafting procedure.A bone…
Bone Graft Procedure Prior to Dental Implant Placement
Bone graft surgery becomes necessary when a person lacks enough bone mass to hold a dental implant in place. So, why do some patients have insufficient bone tissue? The jawbone regenerates when stimulated by a natural tooth, which happens whenever a person bites down. When the person loses the tooth, there is nothing left to stimulate that particular area of the jawbone. The bone atrophies, losing both mass and density. In the end, the bone becomes too narrow and thin to hold an implant.
How a dental implant should sit in the jawbone
A dental implant embeds in the jawbone, where it plays the role of a tooth root. Once the implant integrates with the jaw, it is stable enough to anchor a dental restoration like a crown or a set of dentures. However, a dentist must ensure that the implant is surrounded by bone on all sides except the top.
The implant must sit on bone, without getting too close to underlying nerves. It should also be positioned slightly below the top surface of the jawbone. As a rule of thumb, the implant should be surrounded by bone that is one millimeter thick. If a patient lacks enough bone to meet these requirements, a dentist will recommend a bone graft.
Bone graft surgery, in a nutshell
A successful bone graft increases the amount of bone in the jaw, at the site of the missing tooth. During the procedure, a dental professional will administer anesthetic to the patient. Sometimes the dentist will use bone from another part of the patient’s body, usually the tibia, hip or jaw. To harvest the bone, the dentist will need to put the patient to sleep. The dental professional may also need another type of surgeon to harvest the bone.
Because of the morbidity of two surgical sites, many dentists and patients choose the following options:
- Donor bone from another human being
- Donor bone from a non-human animal
- Synthetic, biocompatible material that can fuse with bone tissue
Irrespective of where the donor bone tissue comes from, the dentist will proceed to open up the gums at the site of the missing tooth. This will expose the bone. The dentist will then place the donor material in the jaw and suture the gums shut. The patient will go home and wait for the donor bone to integrate with the jaw. This can take up to three months.
The timing of bone graft surgery in relation to implant placement
Often, bone graft surgery is done weeks or months before dental implant placement. This gives the donor bone time to fuse with the jawbone. The dentist will wait just long enough for the donor bone to integrate, but not too long that the jaw begins to lose mass again.
In some situations, the dentist will perform bone graft surgery and place an implant in a single procedure. They will only do this when operating on a small area. A patient who gets this two-in-one procedure should be in excellent health, with the ability to follow instructions for post-operative care, to the letter. Most dentists prefer to perform a bone graft separately from implant placement, simply to minimize the chances of implant failure.
Are you ready to restore your smile?
A full set of teeth is good for your self-esteem and great for your oral health. Get in touch with your dentist to schedule a consultation. After doing a thorough evaluation of your physical and oral health, the dentist will advise you on whether or not you need bone graft surgery.
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