Bone Graft for Dental Implant
Dental implants, used to replace a missing tooth, are artificial teeth anchored by a screw inserted into the jawbone. Before a dental implant can be placed in the mouth, the dentist must ensure that there is enough bone in the jaw to support it. After a tooth is lost, the bone gradually wears down. If not enough bone remains to support an implant, the jaw bone must be built up using a bone graft before an implant can be inserted. The need for a bone graft is usually determined during a pre-implant X-ray. You are more likely to need a bone graft if the tooth has been missing for several years.
If the bone under the gum is not tall or wide enough to support the screw anchoring a dental implant, a bone graft must be performed. There are several procedures used to build up the bone, which differ in the type of bone or bonelike material added to the jaw. It can be your own bone, taken from areas like the chin or the back portion of your lower jaw. If there is not enough bone in these areas, it could be taken from the hip or shin bone. It could also be processed bone obtained from a cadaver or a cow. Finally, there is a variety of synthetic materials that can be used for bone graft procedures. While most surgeons prefer to use the patient’s own bone, there are both benefits and drawbacks to each method that should be considered before the grafting procedure is performed.
The grafting material is transplanted during a surgical procedure requiring local anesthesia. After the area is numbed, the surgeon will harvest the bone material from the donor site. This requires an incision, often in the gums below the lower front teeth, providing access to the underlying bone. Once the bone material is removed, this incision is closed with sutures. Now, it is time to transfer this material to the jaw bone where the implant is to be placed. The surgeon creates another incision to provide access to the jaw bone at the implant site. Then, the bone graft is anchored there with tiny titanium implant screws, and the incision is closed with sutures.
After the surgery is complete, you will return home with antibiotics, pain medication, and an antibacterial mouthwash. Your surgeon will provide you with full post-graft instructions for recovery. During the initial healing period, which can take as long as two weeks, you will need to eat soft foods to avoid disturbing the surgical site. You may experience some degree of swelling, bruising, discomfort, or minor bleeding after the surgical procedure.
Following the bone grafting procedure, you must wait several months for the added material to fuse to the natural bone. The process is necessary to provide a stable anchor for the dental implant, but typically means a wait of at least six months before the implant can be placed. When the implant is inserted into the bone, the titanium screws holding the bone graft in place can be removed.