When possible, many dentists recommend using dental implants to replace missing or extracted teeth. Unlike other treatments, implants connect with the jawbone to provide a naturally sturdy and healthy tooth replacement. Candidates for dental implants therefore need to have enough existing bone tissue for the surgery to be successful. For our Memphis area patients who lack the needed tissue but are still interested in getting implants, we offer a bone grafting procedure that can adequately prepare you for the next step.
Why Is Bone Grafting Necessary?
Dental implants are meant to provider a sturdy base so replacement teeth can function like real teeth. This means they dont just sit above your gums like traditional bridges or dentures; instead the implant is placed within the muscle and jawbone, much like the roots of the natural other teeth. As a result, the gum tissue, ligaments, and jawbone hold the implant in place. In addition to providing a strong anchor for replacement teeth, dental implants prevent any bone loss that would have occurred otherwise.
Unfortunately, not all patients have enough healthy bone in their jaws to support implants. Common reasons for this include gum disease, injury, or teeth that have been missing for an extended time. By grafting bone into a patients jaw, the implant is given ample room to bond.
Acquiring Bone Tissue
Candidates for a bone grafting procedure may be faced with multiple options concerning the source of the graft. Often, patients have enough bone within their mouth or chin to use as grafting material without any negative impact. The shin or hips can also be a source of tissue, but often requires an overnight hospital stay.
If patients are reluctant or unable to use their own bone tissue, an alternative may be acquired from donor tissue, bovine (cow) tissue, or a synthetic substitute - all of which are suitable and safe.
The Grafting Process
When patients are ready for grafting, they will first be administered local or general anesthesia to make the procedure as comfortable as possible. A small incision will be made in the gum where an implant will eventually be inserted. The bone tissue will then be transplanted into the preexisting bone structure. Lastly, the wound will be sutured.
Because the bone must naturally heal together, the bulk of the process is actually completed during recovery. Over the next three to six months, the patients jawbone will fuse with the graft, regaining the adequate mass and structural integrity for implant surgery.
Recovering from a bone graft is very similar to dental implant recovery. Discomfort will be most noticeable in the first couple of days, gradually subsiding after a few days. Side effects include swelling, bruising, bleeding, and tenderness. The intermittent use of an ice pack can help alleviate swelling, while the use of gauze should stop any mild bleeding. If these symptoms persist or worsen, please contact our cosmetic dentistry office.
Are You a Candidate for Dental Implants?
Before deciding to undergo the dental implants treatment process, we encourage you to come in for a comprehensive consultation. Through a dental exam and X-ray images, you and your dentist can determine whether implants are right for you and whether additional bone preparation is needed. Contact our office to set up an appointment and well get you started on a treatment plan that is tailored to your needs.