- by Dr. Ravneet Dhillon
- November 25, 2022
Dental implants are an excellent choice to replace a damaged or lost tooth. It is a safe and effective solution that provides one with a natural-looking replacement. If the tooth loss is recent and the general health of the patient is good, bone grafts for the dental implant may not be needed.
In other cases, after removing the damaged tooth, a graft may be used to prepare the jawbone for supporting a dental implant. It is a very safe procedure and an experienced dental surgeon will ensure proper healing.
What is a bone graft for dental implants?
A bone graft for a dental implant is a surgery where a healthy bone is transplanted to repair or replace a damaged bone. It may be used as a scaffold around which the body may grow a new bone and even replace the graft over time to support implants like in case of knee replacement, dental implants, etc. This transplant is used to provide a strong framework and stability for the body to grow healthy bones.
Types of bone graft for dental implants
- ● Autograft- here two surgical sites are involved as the bone is harvested from the patient’s body
- ● Allograft- this is taken from a cadaver after processing
- ● Xenograft- is processed from an animal. Some surgeons prefer equine bone as it does not dissolve too soon.
- ● Alloplast- is a synthetic graft
Tooth loss and bone loss- a connection that troubles
There are different types of bone tissues. It is the alveolar bone that is responsible for supporting and securing your teeth. When you lose a tooth, this bone loses its job. This will lead to weakening and atrophy of the alveolar bone. When we chew, we place stress upon the jawbone.
This stress induces the bone to grow strong. As we lose alveolar bone, the jawbone in that area also loses strength and becomes thinner. For dental implants to work and stay in place, they need to bond with the bone. When there is a weak bone structure, dental implants cannot be placed. This is why you might need a tooth bone graft or other types of graft before dental implants.
What is a dental bone graft?
A dental bone graft is a surgical procedure where a part of the bone is removed from a healthy site in a patient’s body (autogenous graft), from a cadaver via a human tissue bank, or from an animal, or in some instances it may be synthetic.
This graft is then used to strengthen the jawbone. After successful healing, the dental surgeon starts the process of dental implants.
Bone graft procedure
Before this procedure, a thorough oral examination is done. The health of teeth, gums, and jaw is assessed. If the jaw is strong enough, the dentist will proceed with dental implants. Otherwise, one will need a tooth bone graft which will be decided after discussion with the patient.
The process- a local anesthetic is used to numb the area. In some cases, sedation may be used. A small incision is made in the gums where the dental bone grafts need to be placed. The gum tissue is moved back to display the jawbone clearly. The area is then cleaned and disinfected.
The Bone Graft for Dental Implants is now placed. To protect the graft, sometimes a membrane may be used to cover it. Now the gum tissue is repositioned and the incision is closed. This graft will act as a scaffold around which the body will grow a new bone in the healing phase.
After- During the healing phase, minor soreness may be there. Ice therapy and anti-inflammatory medicines will suffice to make you comfortable. You will be given antibiotics to prevent infection.
Healing will take anywhere from three months to a year depending upon several factors. When the jawbone heals, it is strong enough to support the dental implant.
The bone grafts for dental implants
The dental bone grafts are processed to avoid any rejection from the body. As autograft is from the patient’s body only, it does not require processing.
There are four main types of bone grafts for dental implants
● Socket preservation- as we know, a lost tooth needs to be replaced before there is loss of bone from the jaw. In this case, as soon as the tooth is lost or extracted, a bone graft is placed in the socket to fill the void.
● Ridge augmentation- when the tooth loss is old, the jawbone will be less dense and will not be strong to support the implants. Here the graft is used to increase the volume as well as the width of the jawbone so that it is ready for other dental procedures like implants.
● Sinus lift- when one loses upper back teeth, the maxillary sinuses will drop down. If a dental implant procedure is fine without correcting this, those will perforate the sinus membrane. A sinus lift is done to avoid this by using a bone graft to lift back the sinus. Now, the implants will have a strong and stable surface.
● Periodontal bone graft- gum diseases cause loss of bone which can even loosen existing teeth. Here this type of graft is used to provide support to the teeth by placing it around the teeth which have become loose.
How long does a bone graft for dental implant take to heal?
Our experts at Morgan Hill Dentistry explain that a patient will get comfortable with the graft in a week or two. One can return to normal activity within a day or two of the procedure. The healing of the Bone Graft for Dental Implants will take 3-4 months.
For some people, this period may extend for a few more months to a year as age, type of graft, general health, and oral health also impact the healing process.
For most people, three to four months is a good time to heal after which they are able to get the implants. You may be given antibiotics and anti-inflammatory medicines during the healing phase.
The area of the graft should be kept clean, dry, and injuries should be avoided.
In some cases, when your dentist is sure, the bone graft and dental implant procedures are done simultaneously. This is a rare case scenario.
How painful is bone graft for dental implants?
This is a very comfortable procedure where a patient is given anesthesia or sedation. This ensures that there is no pain or discomfort during the procedure. Even the healing of a bone graft is a fairly comfortable and painless period. After the tooth bone graft has healed, the implant can be easily placed.
What are the dental bone graft healing stages?
Recovery times will be different for every person. Depending upon the age, type of graft, health issues, etc, the time to heal can range from three to nine months or even more. Waiting time will lead to strong bone support for the implants to last a lifetime.
It is normal to see grain-like particles coming out as a small amount of graft material can come out. If a membrane is placed, that will also disintegrate and you may see some white stuff. If you notice any discharge, unusual swelling, severe pain, etc. please see your dentist.
You can accelerate healing by preventing infection, practicing daily hygiene and oral care, using ice and anti-inflammatory medicines as prescribed, avoiding smoking, hydrating well and eating nutritious foods, rinsing with salt water, and visiting your dentist on time.
Is a bone graft necessary for a dental implant?
No, that is not the case. According to some studies, one in every four implants requires a bone graft for dental implants prior to the dental implant. It is therefore not an absolute necessity but is commonly required.
The reason for this is that after tooth loss there will be bone resorption. Any delay will lead to significant loss of jaw bone because of which an implant can be placed only after a graft. Some health issues also lead to loss of bone strength and density.
So, a bone graft for dental implants is necessary whenever there is a loss of bone tissue to support the implant. Your dentist will decide if you need it or not.
Book your appointment with Morgan Hill Dentistry which is an emergency clinic and let our experts guide you in the best way possible.