Chances are if you’re in the market for a missing tooth replacement then you’ve probably heard of a dental implant. Bone grafting, on the other hand, is less well known. Yet, more often than not, the two procedures go hand in hand.
To avoid any further confusion, we’re going to put the record straight and tell you all you need to know about a bone graft for a dental implant. So without further ado, let’s dive straight in and take a closer look…
Firstly, what is bone grafting and why is a bone graft procedure carried out?
A bone graft is a surgical procedure designed to build up or replace bone that has been lost when a tooth is missing. Because dental implants are anchored directly into the patient’s jaw, they need sufficient and healthy bone tissue so that they remain both stabilised and secure.
Once a tooth is missing, bone tissue starts to diminish in a process known as bone resorption. The longer the tooth is lost, the more bone is reabsorbed, resulting in bone shrinkage. This can be as much as 25% during the first year. A bone graft procedure is carried out to rebuild or replenish any bone that is missing.
In addition, bone tissue shrinkage can also be caused by gum disease, developmental defects, or even facial injury or trauma.
The good news is that bone grafting is a standard and normal clinical procedure performed at the dental clinic. One clinical paper, for example, stated that more than half of the 1500 dental implants patients studied, needed a bone graft procedure. So any grafting procedure should be well-honed and well-practised.
Does tooth loss always equate to bone loss?
In a word yes!
A missing tooth is like a ticking time bomb for your jaw bone. This is why replacing lost teeth with dental implants as soon as possible is important.
Think about it this way…
The alveolar bone has one job – to support the tooth. Once it is no longer required, it’s pretty much rendered useless. When bone tissue is no longer needed, the nutrients contained within the tissue are reabsorbed by the body and dispersed to other areas that need it most. As a result – and like a muscle that is no longer used – it starts to waste away. This is why people with long-term missing teeth seem to have a sunken facial appearance.
Who is likely to need a bone graft?
In reality, anyone who is undergoing dental implants who has lost a tooth may also require a bone graft. This is true even if you ask about dental implants treatment on the day of your tooth loss as you could have an infected socket which has rendered any existing bone unhealthy. That said, the only way to find out if you need a bone graft before undergoing dental implants is to book a consultation.
Types of bone graft for a dental implant
Prior to dental implant placement, our highly skilled team can call upon several types of bone graft procedure depending upon the extent of the damage and the location of the missing tooth. They include:
This is the most common type of bone graft procedure we perform. Otherwise known as socket preservation, this is a procedure whereby bone tissue is grafted onto the socket area immediately after a tooth extraction to reduce the amount of bone loss that occurs once the tooth is missing. Typically, after a socket graft, patients will be ready to receive their dental implants in 4-6 months.
Lateral ridge preservation
Another type of bone graft procedure that we perform is lateral ridge preservation. This is carried out to increase the width of the jawbone to better accommodate the dental implant. Typically, human donor tissue is used for this procedure.
Block bone grafting
As the name suggests, block bone grafting is carried out when the patient has large areas of jaw bone defects. Although less common than the bone grafting procedures listed above, it is highly effective when patients require multiple dental implants. Typically a small block of bone tissue can be harvested directly from the back of the patient’s jaw or it can be obtained from a donor. Either way, the block bone is positioned over the defect site and secured into position using small titanium screws.
Sinus lifting procedures
Sinus lifting or sinus augmentation as it is sometimes known occurs when the floor of the sinus cavity is too close to the area where a dental implant is being placed. During the procedure, the maxillary sinus floor is lifted, and additional bone is grafted into position to ensure that any dental implants placed have sufficient space to anchor into.
Typically, due to the anatomy of the upper jaw (particularly the sinus cavity) patients will have to wait 8-12 months before they can receive their dental implants or implant.
Bone grafting for a dental implant – What can patients expect?
The actual bone graft procedure should be straight forward and comfortable for the patient. Here at No Gaps Dental, for instance, we carry out grafting procedures every day and use the latest sedation techniques coupled with our brand of gentle dentistry, so we guarantee that you are in safe and capable hands.
For the first few days after bone graft surgery, you may feel a little tender and may experience some degree of swelling, but any discomfort should easily be managed using a combination of over-the-counter medications and cold compress packs. The healing process itself – that is, the time taken for the new bone tissue to fuse with any remaining bone – can take anywhere between 3 months or longer but you will come in for regular check-ups until our dentist decides that the time is right to fit your dental implant or dental implants.
A bone graft for a dental implant is a common dental procedure and one that is necessary in many cases to ensure that your dental implants have the best chance of success.
If you would like to find out more about dental implant bone grafting or about undergoing dental implants, then book a consultation with No Gaps Dental. With 15 locations spread over the Sydney Metro area, we provide convenient service at unbeatable prices.
Note: Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks.