Benefits of a Bone Graft
Dental bone grafts are sometimes necessary to restore bone to a healthy condition after tooth loss, severe gum disease or injury.
Reinstating – and maintaining – facial bone structure is crucial. The jaw and other facial bones support the skin and muscle responsible for our appearance. Without the support of the underlying bone, our faces can look prematurely aged.
Another benefit of a bone graft is that it enables many patients to get dental implants who would otherwise not be suitable for this type of tooth replacement treatment.
A bone graft fills in areas where bone is deficient or missing and acts as a supporting platform – or scaffolding – to promote the growth of new bone over time, with proteins and collagen in the existing bone acting as a catalyst.
There are different kinds of bone grafts, categorized by the material used. An allograft uses human bone from a tissue bank. An autograft takes bone from the patient. In a xenograft, the grafting material is from an animal such as a cow. An alloplastic graft uses synthetic bone developed in a lab.
Harvested bone is thoroughly disinfected and processed to ensure no germs are passed on to the recipient.
The Bone Grafting Procedure
Modern dental bone grafting is typically a fairly minor, minimally-invasive, painless surgical procedure carried out in the dental office. It usually takes 45 to 90 minutes.
The procedure entails making a minor incision in the gum to reveal the underlying bone and enable the grafting material to be added. The body then over time absorbs the graft material and replaces it with new bone.
Initial recovery time after a bone graft is about two weeks but it can take several months to form a solid bone mass, depending on the complexity of the procedure and the type of grafting material used.
After a bone graft, your dental specialist will give you oral care guidance to follow while the new bone grows. During this time, you may not be able to eat certain foods or wear a denture. You may be prescribed pain relief and antibiotics to prevent infection.
Bone Grafting to Prepare for Dental Implants
If you want to replace missing teeth with dental implants and don’t have enough healthy bone in your jaw to anchor the implant securely, the problem can be fixed with a bone graft.
In cases of gum disease or injury to the face and jaw, the quality of bone may be compromised. Patients who have had teeth extracted and not had replacement teeth fitted, or have worn dentures for many years, could also have insufficient bone density to support implants.
Although time-consuming, bone grafts are often an essential part of the implant process, which entails inserting a small titanium post into the socket of a missing tooth. The jaw then grows back around the post and grips it firmly in place. When the bone and implant have bonded, an abutment is fitted to hold the synthetic tooth securely, and a crown attached to the abutment.
Benefits of a Bone Graft for Implant Patients
The key benefit of a bone graft for dental implant patients is that it allows them to take advantage of all the plus points that implants offer compared with dentures or bridges. These benefits include:
- Stimulation of bone growth.
- Powerful bite function.
- Support for surrounding teeth.
- Restoring your youthful smile and improving self-confidence.
- Providing a life-long tooth replacement option.
Dental implants look natural and have a high level of functionality. They are regarded as unique in preserving bone to help prevent deterioration of the facial structure.
Like muscle, bone weakens when not in use. In the absence of stimulation from a tooth root, the supporting bone can begin to waste away. Bridges and dentures can’t fix this issue but implants provide an effective solution as roust tooth root replacements, becoming part of your jaw and preserving its structural integrity.
Implant-supported replacement teeth are strong and stable, and allow you to smile and eat as normal. Unlike dentures, implants never slip or shift out of place. They also avoid the problem of indistinct speech that can result from ill-fitting dentures, and they maintain the natural shape of your face.
Different Bone Graft Treatments
Just as bone grafts are categorized by the material used, they can also be classified according to the actual procedure.
A sinus augmentation – also called a sinus lift – is carried out ahead of dental implants when there is insufficient bone height in the upper jaw or the sinuses are too close to the jaw. The procedure increases bone density in the jaw in the area of the premolars and molars, between the jaw and the sinuses on each side of the nose. The sinus membrane is lifted to create space for the bone.
The American Academy of Periodontology (AAP) says a sinus lift can substantially increase the likelihood of a successful implant, and many patients experience little discomfort during the procedure.
Grafts in Implant Site Development
Infected teeth often cause bone loss. In these cases, various types of bone grafts can be performed at the same time as tooth extraction, and an implant fitted later.
A ridge expansion broadens the upper jaw to support dental implants. Bone is divided and bone graft material inserted to create new bone.
A socket preservation graft immediately after tooth extraction helps to preserve bone structure and volume. This procedure can avoid a more intricate bone graft ahead of implant placement.
Can a Dental Bone Graft Help Me?
Bone grafts are frequently necessary to ensure dental implants are effective. However, not all dental bone grafts are concerned with implants.
Bone grafts can repair damage from gum disease (periodontitis) to improve the chances of saving teeth. Bone grafting can also be used to help fractured jaws to heal, rejoining the broken sections of bone to restore shape and stability.
If you want to know more about the benefits of a bone graft – either ahead of dental implants or in other cases – a dental bone graft expert will be able to give you invaluable advice.