In a dental procedure, such as dental implants, bone grafting is needed when there is not enough bone for an implant to grow around. A bone graft will fill the area where there is bone loss and help provide structural stability. Should you need a jaw bone graft before undergoing dental implants, visit your dentist for a consultation.
What is jaw bone grafting?
Jaw bone graft or dental bone grafting is a surgical procedure performed to replace missing bone in the jaw that anchors teeth. Bone grafting is useful in fixing damaged bones due to trauma or problem joints and for bone growth around an implanted device, such as a dental implant where there is bone loss.
When should you get a jaw bone grafting?
Jaw bone grafting is required when there is not a sufficient amount of healthy bones in your mouth to support dental implants. You may undergo jaw bone grafting if you experience the following:
- Development defects: Some people may be born with a missing jaw bone.
- Gum disease: An infection of the tissues that hold your teeth in place.
- Face injury or trauma: Occurs due to accidents that affect the jaw bone and cause bone loss.
- Empty space in the gums: Occurs after a teeth removable.
Types of Bone Grafts
- Socket Graft
Socket graft is the most common bone graft for dental implants. This type of graft protects the alveolar bone (the part of the jaw that holds the teeth) to prevent further deterioration. The procedure includes placing a new bone directly into the spot where there is a missing tooth, creating a secure root for a dental implant. The patient can wait 4-6 months until the bone has bonded with the surrounding bone tissue, allowing the dentist to place a new dental implant.
- Block Bone Graft
Serious injuries that can cause jaw bone damage and large jaw defects require a block bone graft procedure. The procedure includes harvesting a small block of bone usually from the rear of the jaw, placing it onto the defected jaw, and holding it in place with titanium screws until it bonds with the surrounding bone tissue. Dental implants are put into place once the bone and the gums and tissue heals.
- Lateral Ridge Preservation Graft
When the jaw is not wide enough to hold dental implants, this procedure is performed to increase the width of the jawbone to accommodate a dental implant.
- Sinus Lift Procedure
A sinus lift is a surgery that adds bone to the upper jaw. The procedure is to lift the sinus membrane upward to make room for the bone. This procedure promotes bone growth in the sinus area, and healing may take from 4-9 months. A dental specialist, such as an oral maxillofacial surgeon or a periodontist, performs this procedure.
What to expect before the procedure
Jaw bone grafting is a sophisticated procedure. Most procedures like this require more than a single visit to your dentist. It is vital to talk to your dentist before the scheduled treatment to know the best treatment plan for you. If you are taking any medications, make sure to tell your dentist about it. Your dentist will then advise you whether or not you should stop taking any medicines before the surgery. If you are a smoker, it is best to stop smoking before your treatment to help speed the healing. Additional imaging tests, such as x-rays, CT scans, or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), may be required before your procedure. After an initial check-up, a detailed treatment plan, and cost breakdown, you are ready for your first jaw bone graft.
Are bone grafts painful?
Patients are given anaesthesia during the entire procedure. They should not worry about feeling any pain throughout the whole process. Jaw bone grafting is also an outpatient procedure, meaning the patient is allowed to leave on the same day of the surgery (given that there are no other complications). A bone graft is the first procedure patients go through before their dental implants or tooth replacements. Healing time shouldn’t have to be painful as well. Soon enough, the patient will be ready for their dental implants in no time.
What to expect after the bone grafting procedure
After the procedure: The dentist will provide antibiotics to prevent any infection right after the procedure. In some cases, you will also be given pain medication. Most patients leave pain-free after their bone grafts.
Healing time: Not everyone goes through the same process of healing as everyone has different mouths. There is no exact time frame for how fast or quickly your bone grafts will heal. You and your dentist will have to wait for the bone graft to combine and grow around with the natural bones in your jaw or mouth. It usually takes anywhere from 3 to 8 months for the bone graft to fuse with your natural jawbones. You will have to come in for a regular check-up until you are ready for your dental implants.
Are there any risks?
Like any surgery, bone grafting, although generally safe, poses some risks. They are as follows:
- Excessive bleeding
- Blood clot
- Nerve damage
- Complications from anaesthesia
After the procedure, the patient can also experience bone graft side effects, which are completely normal. These side effects include:
- Gum swelling
- Skin swelling or bruising
- Minor bleeding
- Difficulty eating, speaking and chewing
How to care for a jaw bone graft
After the procedure, you may experience soreness, which you can treat with ibuprofen, painkillers, or an ice pack. It is normal to notice some swelling or bruises around the surgical site, so you do not have to be alarmed. Your dentist will provide specific instructions on aftercare, of course, after the procedure. But to help you be well-informed, here are a few guidelines and tips on how to care for your jaw bone graft or dental bone graft:
- Avoid hard and sticky foods. These may damage your stitches and may cause you pain.
- Soft foods only diet. Foods that are easy to swallow and are soft are great options.
- Avoid spicy and salty food. These may irritate the bruises around your mouth.
- Avoid chewing on the surgical site. If you can help it, avoid chewing around where your surgery is.
Jaw bone loss due to missing teeth or severed jaw can have effects on your ability to live your everyday life to the fullest. Limitations include difficulty in speaking, chewing, swallowing, and even smiling. Luckily, there are effective procedures and treatment, such as jaw bone grafting, that allows you to have a new set of teeth and smile to show to the world.