As hard and durable as bone may seem, this living tissue has its weaknesses. In some cases, the bone in your upper or lower jaw may thin out, leaving you with inadequate bone to support your natural teeth or future dental implants. Fortunately, modern bone grafting techniques can come to your rescue.
If you have never undergone or even heard of dental bone grafting, you might find the prospect intimidating or frightening. However, once you get acquainted with the facts about dental bone grafting, you’ll probably feel much more confident about it. The answers to these frequently asked questions may relieve your concerns.
What Circumstances Might Call for a Dental Bone Graft?
A dental bone graft can help you keep your teeth if you suffer from periodontitis. This severe stage of chronic gum disease develops when bacterial infections migrate from the gums to the underlying bone tissue. The destruction of the bone tissue enlarges the tooth sockets, allowing teeth to come loose.
Many dental patients who wish to have dental implants discover that they don’t have sufficient bone density in their jaw to accommodate the metal posts that serve as artificial tooth roots. These patients can receive bone grafts that rebuild the jawbone density, making them acceptable candidates for implant surgery.
What Bone Grafting Tools and Materials Do Oral Surgeons Use?
Oral surgeons can work with a variety of bone grafting materials. If you need extensive bone grafting, your oral surgeon may decide to take a small piece of bone from elsewhere in your own body, a procedure known as an autograft. However, other grafting materials can make the entire procedure simpler and more streamlined.
Alternatives to autografts include allographs, xenografts, and alloplasts. An allograft uses human bone already taken from a donor and prepared for grafting. A xenograft uses natural bone material taken from a cow or other animal. An alloplast involves the use of mineral-based synthetic grafting material.
Oral surgeons typically use metal screws, plates, or pins to attach the grafting material firmly to the jaw. You may also have a small piece of mesh inserted between the gum tissue and the bone graft. This technique, guided tissue regeneration, prevents gum tissue from growing where bone should grow instead.
What Can You Expect During and After a Dental Bone Grafting Procedure?
You’ll receive anesthesia and sedation to ensure your comfort during a dental bone graft procedure. The oral surgeon will then make an incision in the gum tissue where the bone graft will go. Once the oral surgeon has positioned and secured the graft, sutures will close up the gum tissue.
You should feel no more discomfort following a dental bone graft than you would from a procedure such as a tooth extraction. Anti-inflammatory drugs and ice packs can help control pain and swelling during the first few days of recovery. Your dentist may instruct you to sleep on your back and keep your head elevated.
Expect to eliminate hard, crunchy, or otherwise challenging foods from your diet as you recuperate. Depending on how much work you’ve had done, your dentist may recommend either an all-liquid diet (featuring cold foods) or a diet built around soft foods such as mashed potatoes and scrambled eggs.
You should be able to resume normal activities within a few days of your bone graft procedure. However, full regeneration of healthy bone may take anywhere from three to six months to complete, after which you can pursue additional treatments such as dental implants if desired.
Accent Dental includes dental bone grafting among its oral surgery services. If you believe that dental bone grafting may lie in your immediate future, contact our office today to schedule a consultation and discuss your needs with our dental team.