A bone graft is necessary in cases where the jaw bone has been weakened by gum disease, trauma, or tooth loss. Bone grafting can help strengthen and rebuild the jaw bone to achieve a strong foundation for dental implants.

While the idea of having surgery on your jaw bone may seem intimidating, bone grafting is necessary before dental implant surgery if you have experienced bone loss. By understanding why and how this procedure is performed, you can feel more confident about the process and the results it will bring.

In this blog post, we’ll take a closer look at what a bone graft is, why it is sometimes necessary before getting a dental implant, and what the procedure and healing process looks like.

What Is a Bone Graft?

A bone graft replaces or rebuilds lost or damaged bone in the jaw. There are three types of bone grafts:

  1. Autogenous: Autogenous bone grafts involve taking a piece of natural bone from another area of the patient’s body, typically the iliac crest (upper part of the hip bone) or from an area in the lower jaw bone.
  2. Allograft: Allografts use bone from a donor. Donated allografts are taken from American cadavers and sterilized using the highest standard of tissue safety. This is the most common type of bone graft used for dental implants.
  3. Xenograft: Xenografts use bone from an animal donor. This type of graft is occasionally  used.

Your surgeon may choose to use a bone graft substitute. Some examples of bone graft substitutes include:

  • Graft composites
  • Bone morphogenetic proteins

Why Are Bone Grafts Necessary?

Bone grafts are sometimes necessary for placing a dental implant. If there is not enough healthy bone to support an implant, then the implant may fail and require removal. A bone graft increases bone mass and bone density of the jaw, providing a strong foundation for the dental implant.

There are several reasons a jaw bone may be weak, including

Periodontal disease (gum disease): Infection from periodontal disease can cause bone loss around the teeth.

Injury or trauma: A blow to the face or a fall can damage the jaw bone and diminish its strength over time.

Missing Teeth: When a tooth is missing, it triggers the body’s natural process of bone loss. Ideally, a small bone graft called “socket preservation” is done at the time of dental extractions to maintain healthy bone for future dental implants and to avoid a larger and more expensive bone graft procedure in the future.

The Bone Graft Procedure

Before your procedure, your surgeon will perform a pre-operative evaluation to determine the best type of graft for you. Dental x-rays and a CT scan will be taken to measure the size of the area that needs the bone graft. In many cases, if an extraction is required, your surgeon may perform the bone graft at the same time as an extraction procedure. This is by far the best time to perform bone grafting. This speeds the healing of the extraction site and frequently saves the patient a larger, more expensive, and more uncomfortable procedure in the future.

The bone graft procedure is a surgical procedure; therefore, your surgeon will use local anesthetic and possibly dental sedation. Your surgeon will determine the type of sedation used during your pre-operative evaluation. The procedure will begin with an incision in the gum tissue to expose the area where a bone graft is needed. The surgeon will then place the bone graft material into the area and close it with sutures.

Bone Graft After Tooth Extraction (Socket Preservation)

Once the tooth is extracted, bone graft material is tightly packed into the empty root spaces (i.e., the remaining tooth socket). The graft material helps stimulate new bone formation and create a stronger foundation for dental implant placement in the future.

Bone Graft To Repair Bone Loss (Ridge Augmentation and Guided Tissue Regeneration)

A bone graft can be done to repair an area of the jaw where a tooth used to be or any area in which there is bone loss. The graft material is placed in the area to help stimulate new bone formation and create a stronger foundation for dental implant placement.

Sinus Lift

A sinus lift procedure is done when a tooth is missing in the posterior upper jaw (maxilla). The sinus is a naturally occurring air-filled space in the upper jaw that sits above the teeth in the upper jaw. It naturally expands (pneumatized) over a patient’s life. Frequently it is so large that after an upper tooth is removed the sinus needs to be “lifted” and a bone graft placed to have enough bone for a stable implant. 

For a detailed explanation of these procedures, visit our Dental Bone Grafting Page.

Healing Process & Implant Placement

After the bone grafting procedure, it is important to take good care of the surgery site. To ensure a successful recovery:

  • Keep the area clean with good oral hygiene
  • Avoid strenuous activity
  • Be gentle with the site of surgery

The healing process takes 4 to 6 months, depending on the size of the area and the type of graft material used. Once your jaw bone has healed and is strong enough, you will be ready to receive an implant.

For detailed post-operative instructions please visit our post-operative instruction page.

Dental Bone Grafting Boulder, CO

At Foley and Le, oral surgeons Boulder, CO, we take special care to provide you with the best possible outcome. Our team is dedicated to providing you with the highest quality of care. Our surgeons are experienced in all aspects of bone grafting and will carefully assess your needs and provide you with the best treatment plan for your particular case.
If you would like to learn more about bone grafting procedures and the services we offer, please contact us today at (303) 444-2255 or complete the online booking form. If you are searching for an oral surgeon near me, trust the experts at Foley & Le.

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