Seeking to replace a missing tooth (or teeth) using a dental implant? You are making a wonderful decision. Nearly anyone can be a candidate for these natural-looking alternatives. However, if you have suffered significant bone loss, you may find that your dentist cannot proceed with the implants until you have a bone grafting procedure.
What is bone grafting? Why is it necessary for dental implants? Here’s what you should know.
What is Bone Grafting?
A dental bone graft replaces missing bone in your jaw. It does this with the hope that, as the natural bone grows, it will absorb the material used in the bone graft and make it a solid part of the bone. In other words, they integrate as one. Of course, this probably has you wondering what bone graft material is, right? Well, there are a couple of different types of material, including:
- Autografts. Bone tissue from your own body, typically the chin, shin, or hip. This will require a surgical procedure before the bone graft can be done.
- Allografts. Treated cadaver bone from a human donor.
- Xenografts. A portion of animal bones. Cows are most commonly used.
- Alloplastic. Created bone graft material from a mineral found in the bone called hydroxyapatite.
- Ceramic-based grafts. This bone graft material is made from some combination of ceramics and other materials.
Your dentist may use one of these materials or offer a choice. Be sure to discuss your options and choose what is right for you.
Why is Bone Grafting Necessary for Dental Implants?
Bone loss is common for those who have lost teeth, whether through extraction or due to decay. And, when there isn’t sufficient bone available, you may not be able to have a solid place for the dental implant. Bone grafting helps to build up this bone and once it heals, the implant process can move forward. This process may take four to six months - or longer. But once your dentist examines the bone and determines it is ready for the implant, it should be strong enough to handle the job successfully.
Bone Grafting Procedure
Once you have discussed the treatment plan with your dentist, you will move forward with the bone grafting procedure. The steps may vary, but this will give you a general idea of how the process works and what to expect. First, your dentist will make sure the area is nice and numb so that you don’t feel any pain during the procedure. Then, the area will be cleaned and an incision will be made into the gum to expose the underlying bone. The bone graft material will be attached along the bone. Once it is in place, the gums will be sutured up. It is a rather easy procedure and should not lead to any complications.
Learn More About Bone Grafting and Dental Implants
Dental implants can be a wonderful addition to your smile. But sometimes bone grafting is necessary to make sure they will have enough jawbone to hold them steady.