While having a bone graft for dental implants sounds quite scary, and you may be worried it will hurt, there is nothing to fear. Like any dental treatment, you’re likely to feel more confident about going ahead once you know what to expect.
One of the criteria for getting dental implants is that a person has sufficient healthy bone in their jaw. Like natural teeth, dental implants rely on support from the bone as they are placed directly into the jawbone.
Over time, the surrounding bone fuses with the implant (osseointegration), giving it the strength to support a prosthetic tooth or dental crown. If a patient has lost more than one tooth, an implant-supported bridge or denture can be used.
Before we get into the ins and outs of bone grafting, let’s talk about why bone loss occurs and why your dentist has told you that you need a bone graft.
When you lose a tooth, the body starts to resorb the bone because it thinks it is no longer needed. Unfortunately, and particularly with widespread tooth loss, this causes the jaw to change shape. Over time, the face takes on a hollow, sunken look that makes a person look years older than they are.
It would be foolish for a dentist to insert a dental implant into a site with insufficient bone. Doing so would increase the risk of implant failure since the implant needs sufficient, healthy bone to thrive – hence the need for a bone graft for dental implants.
The purpose of a bone graft
Bone grafts enable a dentist to grow bone where needed while ensuring the dental implant is placed accurately and precisely, giving it the best chance of success.
Types of bone graft for dental implants
There are various types of bone grafts available, and your dentist will determine what’s right for you.
A socket bone graft is used immediately after a tooth is extracted, paving the way should a person require a dental implant at a future date.
Another form of bone graft is a sinus lift. Sinus lifting is needed to create more room in the sinus chamber when receiving dental implants in the upper jaw.
Finally, a ridge modification replaces bone loss that may have occurred in the upper or lower jaw due to dentures placing pressure on the bony ridge.
Bone grafting for dental implants – Where does the bone come from?
An autograft using bone taken from another area of the patient’s mouth is often the preferred choice. Other times, and depending on the patient’s preference, synthetic (alloplastic) bone grafts are recommended.
What is the bone graft procedure before a dental implant?
- X-rays and CT scans determine the depth of your bone, the size and type of graft and grafting material to use.
- Minor bone grafts are performed in the dentist’s chair under a local anaesthetic. Larger, more complex grafts will be carried out in a hospital setting.
- An incision is made in the gums above the implant site. The grafting material is inserted and covered with a membrane to protect it and promote new growth. The gums are then closed with sutures.
It takes between 3 and 6 months for the graft to heal before you can go ahead with dental implants.
If the thought of a bone graft has put you off the idea of a dental implant, then, hopefully, knowing more about the bone grafting procedure may give you the motivation to move forward.
If you need more information about a bone graft or dental implants, don’t hesitate to contact the West Ryde Dental Clinic team on (02) 9000 1283.
Note: Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks. Before proceeding, you should seek a second opinion from an appropriately qualified health practitioner.