Not only do missing teeth impact eating and speaking but they can also make a big dent in your confidence. Fortunately, dental implants provide a long-lasting solution.

In order to have dental implants, however, you need to have sufficient bone in your jaw to support them. Unfortunately, bone depletion occurs naturally when a tooth is lost and, this being the case, your dentist may recommend that you undergo a bone graft for your dental implant.  The good news is that following bone grafting, most healthy people become suitable candidates for dental implants.

Naturally, you may be feeling a little worried about getting a bone graft. So, let’s take a look at what’s involved in more depth to put your mind at ease.

 

Getting a bone graft for a dental implant – all you need to know

Bone grafting is a common procedure often performed prior to preparation for dental implants. Just like your natural teeth, dental implant posts need support from nearby bone tissue so they’re able to support dental crowns, bridges, and dentures.

 If you’ve suffered bone loss, then you face a higher risk of your dental implants failing. By supplementing the depth of bone in the affected areas of your jaw with a bone graft, your dentist can increase the chance of successful dental implants treatment.

 

Types of bone grafts

There are various types of grafts which can be used during surgery, including:

  • Autograft – bone tissue is taken from your own body, usually from the chin or hard palate. While there is no risk of an allergic reaction, this method does involve 2 surgeries.
  • Allograft – bone tissue is taken from a donor which does away with the need for a second surgery. There is a small risk, however, that your body could reject the new bone.
  • Alloplast – graft is made of a synthetic material known as hydroxyapatite, although it can also be made with other materials including calcium carbonate and calcium sulphate. While this material is safe, there may be a slight risk of rejection or an allergic reaction in some people.

Which type of graft will probably be determined by your budget, lifestyle, health, and personal preference, and your dentist will be happy to discuss your best options.

 

Preparing for bone grafting

Before recommending a bone graft your dentist will have thoroughly assessed your jaw and medical health. X-rays and CT scans make it easier for your dentist to determine the stability of your bone and locate areas of bone loss. He or she then knows exactly where to place the graft and what size is necessary. Besides planning for a bone graft, your dentist is likely to recommend you take the following steps at home, to help surgery go smoothly –

  • If you’re a smoker, you’ll need to quit at least 3 weeks prior to surgery
  • Stop taking any medications such as aspirin 2 weeks before surgery
  • Eat healthily incorporating plenty of vitamin-rich foods to help your body heal faster

What to expect during surgery

A local anaesthetic will numb the area. Once you’re comfortable, a small incision will be created in your gum and the bone graft material will be placed. Often this is covered with a special membrane which helps to promote tissue generation. Once the bone graft is securely in place, your gum will be closed with sutures.

 Over the next 6 to 9 months, the graft will bond with the surrounding bone tissue in a process known as osseointegration. This is critical to the success of future dental implants treatment to create a strong base to support the implant posts.

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Sinus lifts and ridge augmentation

Sometimes, depending on the size and shape of an individual’s jaw, a specialised type of bone graft may be necessary. If the upper jaw is low or drooping, there may not be sufficient space in which to embed the dental implants posts. In this case, the sinus floor may need to be raised so that the space below can be filled with grafting material. Known as a sinus lift, it prevents any damage from occurring to the sinus cavities during the dental implant procedure.

Ridge augmentation –Often this takes place directly after tooth extraction to help recreate the natural contours of the gums and jaw which may have been lost during tooth extraction. Rebuilding the height of this ridge with bone grafting is often necessary before a dental implant can be placed.

 

Recovering after a bone graft

It’s common to experience a little discomfort after getting a bone graft for your dental implant as well as bleeding, swelling, and a little inflammation. These symptoms can usually be managed with over the counter pain killers such as ibuprofen. You should also avoid any strenuous exercise and stick to a soft diet for a few days. Don’t forget to maintain a high level of oral hygiene but take care to brush gently around the surgical site without disturbing it.

You should feel more like your old self within 1 to 2 weeks although it can take up to nine months for your jaw to fully heal.

 

Potential risks

Like any surgery, there are potential risks associated with getting a bone graft. These include:

  • Infection
  • Nerve damage
  • Allergic reaction
  • Excessive bleeding
  • Rejection of the bone graft material
  • Blood clots
  • Abnormal bone development
  • Scarring

Choosing a knowledgeable and experienced dentist, such as Dental Spot can greatly reduce any risk of complications arising.

Hopefully, any fears you may have about getting a bone graft prior to dental implants have been answered and you can confidently go ahead with your bone graft knowing that you’re one step closer to a brand-new smile.

If you’d like to know more about getting a bone graft or indeed if you’re a suitable candidate for dental implants, then why not book a free dental implant consultation with Dental Spot today? Call us on (02) 9158-6115