Bone Graft for Dental Implants

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A bone graft is a serious surgery usually performed when infection has spread beyond the dental roots.  Your dentist will have to perform a bone graft in cases where there isn’t enough bone to position a dental implant on.  These require a set amount of bone in order to make them totally stable.  When this isn’t apparent, either due to naturally small jaws or through infection or periodontal disease, your dentist will have to have extra bone added to the area.

Bone Graft Sources

Your dentist and surgeon will want to use your own bone for a graft, usually they will try to take it from your chin or the back part of your jaw.  The hip or shin can also be used although not preferred and is usually used in instances where the graft needed is large. 

If you don’t want to have the bone taken from your body then substitutes can be used either from human donors or from cows.  These are not preferable as sometimes they are rejected, but can be used in some instances.

Bone isn’t necessarily essential, instead you could have a synthetic material added instead.

Bone Graft Procedure

You will be fully consulted and made aware of the procedure by your surgeon before anything happens.  The options available to you will be discussed and you can agree upon which form of implant or graft you wish to have. 

  • X-rays will be made of your jaw and teeth to ensure that a bone graft is the right treatment for you.
  • A local anaesthetic will be applied to both areas being affected, the recipient site, (where the bone will be grafted onto), and the donor site, (where the bone will be taken from). 
  • Incisions will be made into the gum in order to determine the amount of bone necessary.
  • The gums will be cut under your lower front teeth, if is has been decided that this is where the donor bone will be taken from, and a section of bone removed with the marrow.  The bone is usually replaced with a synthetic material, and then stitched over.
  • A membrane will be placed over the area where the bone was in order to protect against the soft tissue invading the site.
  • Small holes will be made in the bone along the recipient site to produce bleeding, so allowing blood to make contact with the new bone and start the healing process.
  • The new bit of bone is secured into place with screws and then bone marrow and other materials are placed around the edges of the new piece of bone. 
  • The area will be stitched up.

Bone Graft Recovery

Your dentist will provide you with information on how to make a speedy recovery from a bone graft.  Pain killers and antibiotics will be prescribed to you along with an antiseptic mouthwash

Fixtures such as braces or dentures can’t be worn while you are healing.  It might be a month or so until reapplying these can be possible.You may have to wear a specially made dental bridge or retainer to ensure that the area is protected.

Depending on the severity of the graft it will take 6 to 12 months to heal completely, and after this time you can have the implant fitted.  After this time you will also be able to have the screws removed.

Bone Graft Risks

Infection is a risk of any procedure that punctures the skin.  If caught early an infection can be easily treated with antibiotics but otherwise can cause serious health problems. 

There is always the chance that the bone will be rejected by your body.  This isn’t as common as having organs rejected and usually only occurs due to an infection or because the bone is loose.  If this happens you can have another graft put in place at a later date.

Bone grafting sometimes requires a general anaesthetic and an overnight stay in hospital, if the graft is particularly large.  This runs its own risks, as a general anaesthetic can prove problematic for some people.

In order to minimize the risks of bone grafting it is essential that you follow the advice of your surgeon and dentist and ensure that you do everything you can to lead a healthy lifestyle.  Smoking can seriously affect your recovery.

Bone Grafting Results

Generally bone grafts are a successful surgery and can seriously improve the stability of a dental implant.  This in turn has major benefits including aesthetic values, less risk of gum disease or cavities and better occlusion.  Although it might take a while to totally recovery, the risks are few and the results are worth it.