So, your dentist has recommended that you have a bone graft for dental implants? Your first thoughts are probably that this procedure sounds incredibly invasive and downright scary, and we understand your concerns. However, once you know what to expect, you’ll realise that the process is not as daunting as it seems, and you’ll feel more comfortable and prepared to go ahead with the bone grafting procedure.
Let’s start by explaining why bone loss occurs in the first place.
Why does bone loss happen when a tooth is lost?
When a tooth is extracted or falls out of its own accord, the body starts to resorb the bone because it thinks it is no longer needed. Unfortunately, with widespread tooth loss, over time, the jaw begins to change shape, and the face takes on a hollow appearance that makes a person look older than they are.
Often it’s the case that a person has left it too long before deciding they want dental implants to replace their missing teeth. As a result, their bone lacks the depth to support the implants. Hence, the need for a bone graft for dental implants.
A dental implant is the closest a person can get to having their missing tooth back. Not only does an implant look and feel like a natural tooth, but like our real teeth, it needs bone in the jaw for support. This gives it the strength and stability to support a dental crown, or in the case of multiple dental implants, a dental bridge or denture.
Were a dentist to fit a dental implant into a site with insufficient bone, not only would it be foolish, but it would likely cause the implant to fail. If the available bone does not meet requirements, a bone graft will raise the odds of a successful outcome.
Bone grafting enables dentists to grow bone where it’s needed the most, meaning that dental implants are placed in precisely the proper position.
Furthermore, it means your dentist or oral surgeon can confidently place implants of the right length and width while simultaneously restoring aesthetics and bite functionality for the patient.
Different types of bone grafts for dental implants
There are various types of bone grafts, and which you receive will depend on the current condition of your jaw. Here are some examples:
Extraction socket bone graft
This is the best way of preventing bone loss from occurring when a tooth is extracted. It’s both cost-effective and minimally invasive and can be carried out simultaneously as a tooth extraction. The dentist packs the empty socket with demineralised pure human bone granules paving the way should the patient want a dental implant sometime in the future.
A sinus lift is usually needed by patients with a low or drooping upper jaw or simply if there isn’t sufficient space to place the implants. Bone is added between the jaw and the sinuses located on either side of the nose. The surgeon lifts the sinus membrane and increases the bone’s depth on the sinus floor with a bone graft. Once completed, the dental implants can be placed safely and securely at a later date.
This type of bone graft offers a practical option for those who have suffered bone loss in the lower or upper jaw. Bone loss may have occurred because of wearing dentures or from injury or periodontal treatment, leaving insufficient bone to support the dental implants.
How is a bone graft performed?
Before going ahead with bone grafting treatment, the dentist will have taken X-rays, and CT scans to determine the depth of your bone, the precise location for the bone graft, and the size of graft that’s needed. This information also helps to determine the type of bone grafting material to use.
Sometimes, minor bone grafts can be performed simultaneously with tooth extractions under a local anaesthetic as the patient sits in the dentist’s chair. The surgeon may need to remove a piece of bone from the hip or shinbone in the case of a more complex bone graft before implanting it into the jaw at the implant site. Often this is carried out in a hospital setting under general anaesthesia.
During a minor bone graft, an incision is made in the gums above the implant site, and the bone grafting material is firmly secured before the gums are closed with sutures. The dentist may also place a membrane over the graft to offer protection and help promote new bone growth.
How will I feel after a bone graft?
It’s normal to feel an element of discomfort following bone grafting surgery, and you may experience light bleeding and swelling in the affected area. Fortunately, these symptoms will soon disappear and can be managed in the interim with over the counter painkillers such as Ibuprofen.
We advise patients to rest for a few days and swap to a soft diet for several weeks. Don’t forget to brush and floss your teeth as usual but be gentle around the graft site so as not to disturb it.
In terms of healing, it can take three to six months for the bone graft to heal before you can go ahead with your dental implants. So this will need to be factored into your overall treatment.
Are there any risks?
All surgery comes with risks, and a bone graft for dental implants is no different. However, complications are less likely to arise when you choose a reputable dentist like Dr Jack Yang at Infinity Dental Care.
The good news is there are several benefits associated with undergoing a bone graft before a dental implant.
- The chance of a successful dental implant is significantly increased, even though the implant success rate averages 95%
- A successful implant also raises confidence and improves oral hygiene
- No more uncomfortable and embarrassing slipping dentures
If you’ve been holding back from having a dental implant because of the thought of undergoing a bone graft, hopefully, this article will make you feel more confident with your final decision.
Don’t wait any longer. Schedule a free implant consultation with the experienced team at Infinity Dental Care to discuss your suitability and answer any questions or concerns you may have.
Please contact us today for an appointment: (02) 9159 6237.