A jaw bone graft is a surgical procedure that replaces lost or damaged jawbone tissue. This type of surgery is often required when an individual has suffered trauma to their jawbone, such as a fracture, or when they have had teeth removed due to periodontal disease. The purpose of this blog post is to provide information on why a jaw bone graft may be necessary, what the procedure entails, and how long it takes for the graft to heal.
Why Would I Need a Jaw Bone Graft?
A jawbone graft might be recommended if you have sustained an injury that caused damage to your jawbone or if you have had teeth removed due to periodontal disease. In either case, the procedure helps to restore the normal function and appearance of your face. It also helps reduce the risk of infection and other complications associated with these conditions.
What Does Jaw Bone Graft Surgery Involve?
During the procedure, your surgeon will remove a piece of healthy bone from another part of your body (or from a donor) and implant it into the area where it is needed in your jawbone. They will then secure the graft in place using screws or plates and stitches. In some cases, they may also use special mesh-like material to help hold the graft in place while it heals.
What are the advantages of dental bone grafts?
Dental bone grafts can increase your eligibility for dental implants and other restorative treatments. This procedure restores your jaw to its original form following trauma, tooth loss, or gum (periodontal) disease.
What are the risks or complications of dental bone grafts?
Bone grafts in your mouth are generally safe. However, the procedure carries some risks, including:
- Heavy bleeding.
- Nerve damage.
- Complications from anesthesia.
Who needs a dental bone graft?
A person with bone loss in their jaw usually needs a dental bone graft. This procedure may be recommended if you:
- Are having a tooth extracted.
- Plan to replace a missing tooth with a dental implant.
- Need to rebuild the jaw before getting dentures.
- Have areas of bone loss due to gum (periodontal) disease.
How common are dental bone grafts?
Dental bone grafts are extremely common. They may be performed by a general dentist or a specialist, such as a periodontist or an oral surgeon.
Are there different types of bone grafts?
Yes. There are four main types, including:
- Socket preservation. Sometimes called ridge preservation, this type of graft is placed in the socket immediately after tooth extraction. It fills the void left behind by the missing tooth and prevents the sides of the socket from caving in.
- Ridge augmentation. If your teeth have been missing for a while, the supporting jawbone may be thinner than it was before. Ridge augmentation increases the width and volume of the jawbone so it can provide a stable foundation for implants or other restorative options.
- Sinus lift. The maxillary sinuses sit just above your upper back teeth. If the upper back teeth are missing, the sinuses can drop down and invade the space once occupied by the teeth roots. In this scenario, you wouldn’t want to place implants because they would penetrate the sinus membrane. To address this problem, your oral surgeon or periodontist can perform a sinus lift. This procedure raises the sinus back to its proper position. A dental bone graft is then placed underneath the sinus, creating a solid foundation for dental implants later on.
- Periodontal bone graft. Infection from gum disease can erode the bone that supports the teeth. This can cause the teeth to become loose. A periodontal bone graft is placed around an existing tooth to reduce mobility and provide additional support.
In most cases, bone grafts for dental implants must heal completely before the actual implant is placed. Because each person is unique, recovery times vary. In rare instances, your dentist may be able to place a bone graft and a dental implant at the same time. But this is decided on a case-by-case basis.
Is the Procedure Painful?
While bone grafting may sound scary, the procedure is routine, predictable, and should not be feared. Because bone grafting is performed while the patient is under anesthesia, there is virtually no pain during the procedure. After completion, there may be swelling, bruising, bleeding, and mild discomfort once the anesthesia wears off. Patients will be prescribed antibiotics to prevent infection and, if pain persists, analgesics may be provided as well.
How Long Does Jaw Bone Graft Take To Heal?
The healing time for a jaw bone graft can vary depending on factors such as age, health history, and severity of injury/disease. Generally speaking, you can expect it to take anywhere from 6-12 weeks for full healing to occur. During this time, you must follow all instructions given by your surgeon regarding diet and activity level in order to ensure proper healing takes place. You will also likely need multiple follow-up appointments with your doctor throughout this period so that they can monitor your progress and ensure that everything is progressing as expected.
There are a variety of factors that influence recovery time, including the person’s age, overall health, and type of surgery performed. In general, patients will recover from the grafting procedure within four to twelve months. Should the patient need to have dental implant surgery, time will be needed to first heal and allow the bone graft to fuse with natural bones in the mouth. This fusing process may take two to three months during which the dentist may advise the patient to come in for regular checkups to evaluate the healing of the graft.
While recovering from a dental bone graft, patients can expect to:
- Limit physical activities that could disrupt the healing process for a few days post-surgery
- Eat a diet of soft, bland foods like soups, smoothies, scrambled eggs, and yogurt
- Follow the full course of antibiotics prescribed by the dentist
- Take painkillers if needed to manage discomfort
- Care for graft site – avoid chewing in the area
- Change dressings (bandages) as needed
- Use ice to combat pain and swelling
- Modify sleeping position – patients should sleep on their back with their head elevated to ensure blood flow to the graft site
Can dental bone grafts fail?
Dental bone grafts have impressively high success rates. However, as with any procedure, failure is a possibility — especially among people who smoke or have certain medical conditions. Signs of dental bone graft failure include:
- Pain or swelling that worsens after the first week.
- Pus or drainage from the bone graft site.
- Gum recession (when the gums pull away from the teeth).
- No improvement in jawbone volume.
Jaw bone grafts are an effective way for individuals who have sustained an injury or had teeth removed due to periodontal disease to restore normal function and appearance of their face. The procedure requires removing healthy bone from another part of the body (or from a donor) before being implanted into the area where it’s needed in the jawbone. The healing process usually takes between 6-12 weeks but may vary depending on several factors like age, health history, etc., so individuals must follow their doctor’s instructions during this time in order to ensure proper healing takes place. Parents should educate themselves about this procedure if they ever find themselves needing one for their child so they know what steps are necessary for a successful recovery!