Bone grafting might sound like a new procedure, but the technique has actually existed for over a hundred years. Today, bone grafting has many useful medical applications, including the dental bone graft.
Who needs a dental bone graft? If you have jawbone issues, you might be a candidate for dental bone grafting. The procedure may sound scary, but it’s actually a great way to get your dental health on track. The more you learn about what to expect, the less nervous you’ll feel.
In this guide, we’ll teach you everything you need to know about a dental bone graft. If you’re curious about this procedure, read on for more!
A dental bone graft is actually a relatively minor procedure. Your dentist will make an incision to expose the bone of your jaw, then graft new bone material to it. Your bone creates new bone cells around the grafted material, building up bone right where you need it.
Bone is actually a more malleable material than you might think. You make new bone cells and get rid of old ones on a regular basis. These changes are usually a good thing. But sometimes, you can end up without enough bone in your jaw, which might mean you need a bone graft.
If you’ve lost an adult tooth, or had gum disease, there’s a chance you’ll need a dental bone graft.
When you don’t have one of your adult teeth anymore, the bone around your teeth starts to disappear. Gum disease can also cause the jaw bone to recede.
The bone loss from just one tooth might not be noticeable. But if you lose multiple teeth, or have advanced gum disease, your bone loss can actually affect the way your face looks. You may start to have sagging facial features because there’s not enough bone left to support them.
Bone grafting helps restore your appearance. It also ensures that any tooth replacements you get will stay in place.
There are a few different varieties of dental bone graft — let’s take a look at which ones you might need to get.
In this type of bone graft, your dentist will use bone from the back of your jawbone, near your wisdom teeth. This is a good option if you have serious bone loss that needs to be addressed.
A socket graft is the type of graft you can get at the same time as you get a tooth extracted. This prevents bone loss usually associated with adult tooth loss.
Your body won’t be able to reabsorb the bone near where the tooth was, because of the socket graft. This keeps your jaw ready for the dental implants you’ll get to replace the missing tooth.
This bone graft is useful if you’ve lost some of the molars on your upper row of teeth. Part of the sinus may actually start to reach downward, filling in the gap left by the teeth. A sinus lift restores the sinus to normal, while repairing the gap with a bone graft instead.
Now, let’s look at what you can expect if it’s determined that you need a bone graft. The procedure depends on what you need the procedure for.
If it’s associated with a dental implant, you’ll start by having the old tooth taken out. Then, the bone graft will be done so you’re ready for implant surgery. After the graft, there will be a stable base for the new tooth.
Most of the time, bone grafts are done with bone from your own body. It might come from the back of the jawbone, or from another body part.
However, human and even animal donors can also be a good source of bone graft material. This bone gets sanitized so it’s totally safe to use. Some people prefer this option, because it means they won’t need a second surgical incision to get the bone.
Once the bone graft is done, you’ll probably need to wait for a matter of months before you can have your implant added. It takes time for your bone to develop new bone around the graft, so the implant will stay in place.
Bone graft surgery usually takes less than two hours. You’ll get it done in your dentist’s office, and then you’ll need to go through a brief healing process.
You’ll probably feel some pain after the bone graft is complete. However, the pain won’t be too extreme. You can manage it with ice, and your dentist might also recommend medications to keep the swelling down.
The swelling will be one of the most noticeable effects during your recovery. It’s important to work on reducing the swelling, since it can get in the way of your healing process.
You’ll also need to take care with what you eat while you recover. Some procedures will restrict you to a liquid diet during recovery, while others may allow a variety of soft foods. However, it will be a while before you can eat anything hard or crunchy.
When you sleep, you may need to keep your head elevated, so blood doesn’t gather at the surgical site and cause more swelling. And it’s important to avoid strenuous activity for a while so nothing harms the site of the graft.
There’s a short list of specific reasons why you might need a dental bone graft. Most people will never need this kind of procedure. But if you have bone loss due to tooth loss or gum disease, you may very well need a dental bone graft.
As you can see, there’s nothing to be afraid of. This is a fairly small procedure that you’ll mostly recover from in a matter of weeks, even though it can take months for the bone to completely grow back.
Do you need dental services in the St. Louis area? Don’t delay — contact us to get the dental care you need!