Jaw bone grafting is a procedure performed to resolve bone loss in the jaw. The jaw bone is important to keep the teeth in place. Primarily, the reason why you would need a bone graft is that the jaw bone is ultimately decreasing affecting the development of the teeth. Restoring the jaw bone is an important procedure as it is necessary for replacing a missing tooth.
How Jaw Bone Grafting Work
How dentists perform the operation varies. But it all boils down to 1 specific procedure: the doctor will make an incision in the jaw and graft another bone material into it.
Basically, jaw bone grafting is done when the patient has lost a tooth. Losing a tooth significantly causes bone loss. Moreover, gum disease is also a culprit that results in bone loss in the jaw.
Preferably, the bone material that will be grafted to you should come from your own bone such as the hip, tibia, or somewhere from the back of the jaw. This concept is called “autografts”, it’s the most viable option in bone grafting.
In some cases where autograft is not advisable, there are three more sources to choose from. Each of them presents its own pros and cons so be sure to consult your dentist about the best option.
Types Of Bone Grafts
- Autografts. As mentioned, an autograft is a bone material that’s harvested directly from the patient’s body. This is the gold-standard procedure in jaw bone grafting.
- Allografts. Allografts are sourced from a donor.
- Xenografts. This graft is harvested from another species such as cow or pig.
- Alloplastic grafts. Alloplastic grafts are not natural bone materials. These are designed with synthetic materials like calcium phosphate.
Who Needs A Bone Graft
Here are the usual reasons why patients need a bone grafting procedure:
Candidates for dental implants
If you’ve lost a tooth and you wish to have it replaced, you will most likely need bone grafting. When we lose a tooth, bone loss in the jaw starts to occur, hence, making you a candidate for grafting. Before your dentist place the dental implants in your mouth, he will make sure that there is enough bone mass to support the artificial teeth.
Dental implants are artificial teeth that are designed as replacements for missing teeth. They are commonly tooth-colored resin composites or they can also be made of metal or porcelain.
Patients with gum disease or missing tooth
Whether you are getting a dental implant or not, jaw bone grafting is still necessary. This to ensure that your jaws have the right amount of bone mass to support the nearby teeth.
Additionally, tooth loss also occurs due to gum diseases, if this is the case, your dentist might recommend a bone graft to ensure the safety of the remaining healthy teeth as well. This is done in order to stabilize the bone and prevent further damages and complications.
If left neglected, you might experience more tooth loss or worse, heart disease.
There are many reasons why an individual suffers from jaw bone loss. It could be due to aging, bone disease, and injuries. Whatever the reason may be, losing bones in the jaw could affect the appearance of the face. Hence, leaving you with shrunken cheeks and a shorter-looking face.
If the bone mass in the jaws starts to decrease, the appearance of your lips, facial muscles, and overall look will change. In order to avoid this, bone grafting may be done.
Preparing For Bone Graft Procedure
There’s really nothing much to do in preparation for the procedure. But to ensure that you are ready for what’s to come, you may opt to check the checklist below:
- Depending on the type of anesthesia that will be given to you, you may need to avoid eating or drinking certain beverages 12 hours before the procedure.
- If you are under medication, do not forget to inform your doctor about it. Some medicines could interfere with the effects of the anesthesia and slow down healing.
- You will be groggy after the procedure so be sure to have your home transportation arranged beforehand.
Once you’re ready for the procedure, here’s how it will conclude:
- You will be given anesthesia and your vital signs will be monitored by the doctor’s assistant.
- The dentist will clean the treatment area.
- To separate the bone from the gums, the dentist will make an incision.
- After the third step, the bone material will be placed between two sections of the jaw bone.
- The bone graft will be secured with the use of an adhesive material.
- Lastly, the incision will be sewn up.
The clinic’s team should make sure all tools used are properly sterilized in an autoclave.
Recovery Period And Aftercare
The first 24 hours of the healing process are quite critical. To make sure that the treated site heals properly, you will be asked to follow instructions. Some of the common aftercare instructions are as follows:
- Do not remove the dressing placed by the dentist for the next 2 to 4 hours.
- Change the dressing regularly to prevent infection.
- Take your prescriptions.
- Apply ice packs on the swollen area.
- Avoid hard foods for at least 4 days.
- Sleep with a pillow that will slightly elevate your head.
- Do not drink hot beverages in the meantime.
- Stay away from physical activities for 1 at least 1 week. Avoid lifting heavy objects as well.
The discomfort should alleviate on its own a week after the treatment. You will notice that the pain gradually diminishes and that you’re starting to sleep much better.
It might take a few weeks before your jaw bone starts to feel like its old self again, however, it will need several months to fully recover.
If pain, excessive bleeding, and injuries occur despite your effort to keep the treated area clean and safe, contact your dentist immediately.