What is a jawbone graft and why do I need one?

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If you’ve lost a tooth, there’s a high likelihood that your jaw has deteriorated a bit since the tooth went missing. Our teeth provide our jaws with stimulation which keeps the bones in our mouths from breaking down. When we lose a tooth, the stimulation stops, and the bone immediately begins to shrink.

A jawbone graft bulks up the bone, restoring its mass so that it can provide ample support for your new replacement tooth. An implant tooth consists of a screw that anchors the new crown in the jaw, much like the roots of your natural teeth hold them in place.

What is a jawbone graft?

Jawbone grafting is a surgical procedure that replaces missing bone in your jaw where there’s been loss, due to trauma, problem joints, or missing teeth, so that it can support a dental implant.

Why do I need a bone graft?

When your jaw does not have enough bone to support an implant, a graft is needed to bulk it up and provide a solid foundation. You may need a bone graft because you’ve lost a tooth, you’ve experienced facial trauma or injury, you’ve had gum disease, or you were born with developmental defects.

Since bone grafts are sophisticated procedures, they may require multiple visits to your oral surgeon. When you have your consultation, the surgeon will discuss with you the medications you are currently taking, advise you to avoid smoking before your treatment if you’re a smoker, and gather additional imaging, such as x-rays and CT scans to determine the best treatment plan for you.

What to expect during bone grafting?

There are various types of bone grafting. The most common is a socket graft in which the oral surgeon places new bone where the tooth is missing in the alveolar bone—the part of your jaw that holds your teeth. It takes around 3 months or more for that new bone to bond with the surrounding bone tissue and be ready for your new implant.

A lateral ridge preservation graft is performed to widen the jawbone for dental implant placement.

There is a sinus in the back of the upper jaw on both sides which is sometimes an impediment to dental implant placement.  Hence, we will take a CT scan to determine if you have sufficient bone in this area for implant placement.   If you do not have sufficient bone, then a sinus lift with a bone graft may be necessary prior to implant placement in this area.   It usually takes about six months for the bone to consolidate in this area prior to dental implant placement.

What to expect after tooth extraction and bone graft?

You will be given local anesthesia during the procedure, so you’ll be comfortable and not feel a thing.  Your oral surgeon will most likely send you home with pain medication and antibiotics to avoid the potential for infection and discomfort.

The healing process varies from patient to patient, but the typical timeframe for the healing period is 3 months or more. You’ll come in for regular checkups during this time to ensure your natural bone and bone graft are growing together.

How long does it take to recover from a bone graft?

Since mouths and growth processes differ for everyone, there’s no exact formula for healing. Some of our patients heal as quickly as 3 months while others may take longer.

How long to wait for a tooth implant after a bone graft?

You want the healing period to be complete, for your natural bone to fully fuse with the bone graft, before implant placement. Your oral surgeon will monitor your progress and keep you up to speed on how the healing is coming along as you attend checkup appointments during the months following your bone grafting surgery.

Ready to schedule a bone graft consultation?

If you are considering getting dental implants, a bone graft may be warranted prior to dental implant placement or at the same time as implant placement. The best way to determine if you need a bone graft is to come in for a full mouth evaluation with a CT scan which allows our surgeons to accurately measure your bone volume and density. Thankfully, these cutting-edge oral surgical procedures restore speaking, chewing, and smiling, important everyday activities, which are severely impaired when we lose teeth. Bone grafting and implant surgery allow you to have a full set of teeth and the confidence to eat, smile, and speak freely once again.

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