Is a Bone Graft Necessary Before Receiving Dental Implants?
If you’re a candidate for dental implants, hearing the term “bone graft” may cause some concern, but it’s actually a common procedure.
What is a bone grafting?
Bone grafting is a surgical procedure that replaces the missing bone with a material from the patient’s own body or a replacement material. The human body is incredible and bone tissue can regenerate itself if given space to grow in. As natural bone grows, it often replaces the graft material and creates a fully integrated area of new bone.
When is bone grafting used?
If you have lost bone density, your jawbone may no longer be thick enough for the implant. In fact, someone who has lost a tooth may need a bone graft before placing a dental implant. Your body loses bone every day from a missing tooth, which over time leads to disuse atrophy of the jawbone. Atrophy occurs when the bone that is supposed to support the teeth is reabsorbed, resulting in poor bone quality or quantity, making it difficult to place dental implants.
When replacing your teeth with dental implants, the dentist will surgically place a small titanium post under your gums and fix it to your jawbone. Therefore, your jawbone should be dense enough to support the post. A bone graft essentially thickens and widens the jawbone so that it can properly support dental implants. Remember, dental implants rely on osseointegration to work. This means that the implant must be attached to the bone to form a solid foundation for the crown. If there is no bone to work with, placing an implant becomes impossible.
Are there different kinds of bone graft?
Yes. There are several types of bone grafts used. The type of bone graft chosen depends on the extent of the damage you have suffered and the location of the lost tooth. It is also important to remember that the bone graft must be completely healed before your implants are placed.
Socket preservation: As the name suggests, the primary purpose of socket preservation is to prevent atrophy or to maintain the health of the alveolar bone (i.e. the socket that holds the tooth in place). This bone is often damaged by disease or infection, necessitating the extraction of a tooth that can cause a jaw deformity if preventive measures are not taken. Beyond cosmetic concerns, jaw defects also pose major problems in the practice of restorative dentistry, so it’s important to talk to your dentist about socket preservation if your dentist recommends removing the tooth. It usually takes 3 to 6 months for the graft to heal.
Ridge augmentation: Ridge augmentation helps reconstruct the natural contour of the gums and jaw that may have changed due to tooth extraction, traumatic injury, bone loss. Ridge augmentation is achieved by placing bone graft material in the tooth socket. Full recovery usually takes 6 to 9 months. During this time, the new bone tissue fuses with your alveolar ridge, making it a permanent part of your anatomy.
Sinus lift: This procedure is recommended when the patient needs implants in the upper jaw but has a thin sinus wall that cannot hold the implants on its own. One of the most common bone graft procedures for patients with bone loss in the maxilla, sinus lift augments bone at the base of the maxillary sinus to allow secure placement of dental implants. The recovery period after a sinus lift graft typically takes 8-12 months.