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Bone Grafting with Dental Implants

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Procedures that increase bone structure in order to place a dental implant are called bone augmentation. The most common of these procedures is bone grafting. The bone grafting procedure adds bone or similar materials in the jaw that fuses with the bone months later.

The bone graft is a very safe and effective method of dental implant restoration. Once it is placed, it will help replace missing bone, stimulate bone formation and increase bone volume.

When is bone graft necessary?

The most common use for a bone graft or bone augmentation is used during dental implantation. Quite frequently, the dentist realizes that there isn’t enough bone to support the dental implant. A weak bone structure might be caused by factors such as gum disease, injury, trauma or missing teeth over a long period of time.

In the cases of people whose jaw is too short or too narrow, bone should be added into the jaw before the dental implants can be placed. Recovery time before inserting the dental implants is usually between 6 to 12 months following the bone grafting or bone augmentation.

Where does bone graft come from?

The material recommended for use during a bone graft or bone augmentation comes from the patient’s own bone. This material is usually removed from the chin or back part of the lower jaw (ramus).

If the patient does not want to have bone removed from their own body, it might be taken from human cadavers or even cows. Synthetic materials might also be used. Most dentists usually prefer to use the patients own bone for the bone grafting or bone augmentation; use of alternative materials should be discussed with the dentist.

How is bone graft performed?

First, with an X-Ray, the dentist determines if the patient will need bone grafting or bone augmentation. After, an incision in the gum will be made in order to evaluate the quantity of bone that is necessary. Local anesthesia will be used in both the donor and recipient areas.

Another incision will be made so that the bone will be exposed. Some part of the bone and also bone marrow will be removed. Depending on the dentist and the amount of bone that has been removed, the donor area might be replaced with another synthetic material and a film of tissue will be used to cover the area. Stitches will be used to close the incisions.

The bone that is removed will be placed together with titanium screws. Patient’s bone marrow combined with an alternative bone-graft material will be inserted around the placed bone. The area will be covered with a membrane and stitches will be used to close the incisions.

Recovery from bone grafting

Following the bone grafting or bone augmentation procedure, special care should be taken. The patient should avoid certain foods and pressure on the area. Also, medication for pain and antibiotics will be prescribed. An antibacterial mouthwash will be used as well.

In the cases of patients with dentures, they should not be worn before the healing process is complete. In cases of people with natural teeth, a removable bridge might be temporarily placed in order to ensure the protection of the area.

Recovery time is usually from 6 to 12 months. Dental implants can only be inserted when the healing process is complete. In addition, the titanium screws inserted in surgery will be removed before the dental implants can be placed.

What else you should know about bone grafting

In the case of several dental implants being needed or a weak bone structure, more bone will be necessary. In these situations, bone will be taken from hips, shin bone or other places. More extensive procedure will be done under general anesthesia and overnight at the hospital will be necessary.

Bone grafting or bone augmentation is a successful procedure, which has been already performed in a high number of patients. Bone grafts or bone augmentation does not present rejection problems such as organ transplants. However, a bone graft or bone augmentation might fail due to an infection or even instability in the area that can cause the bone to become loose. Smokers and patients with certain medical conditions are more likely to present these symptoms. If it happens, the failed bone graft or bone augmentation will be removed and a new one will be placed.

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