When it comes to replacing missing natural teeth, dental implants are undoubtedly the best option. This is because implant-supported prostheses feel and function just like your teeth. In the modern world, where aesthetics and dental function are equally important considerations while choosing a tooth replacement options, dental implants top the list of potential candidates.
Despite their universal acceptability and worldwide use, there are a few situations in which dental implants cannot be used for tooth replacement. The most important among them is the case when there is not enough jaw bone available to support the implant in its socket. If your dentist has also told you that you cannot get implants because of low jaw bone density, there is no need to worry. Thanks to bone grafting, you can still enjoy a beautiful smile and a fully functional set of teeth with dental implants.
What is Bone Grafting?
Bone grafting is a procedure in which bone tissue is obtained from different sources and grafted onto a site where there is a deficiency of high-density or cortical bone. The grafted bone gradually becomes a part of the initially present bone while the healing is taking place. Once complete healing has taken place, your dentist can now insert an implant into the grafted site which remains firmly stable and anchored with the bone.
When is Bone Grafting Required?
A dental implant consists of two pieces; a cylindrical implant which is embedded within the bone and it serves as the replacement root. The other is the abutment which connects the implant with a suitable prosthesis like a crown, bridge or a denture. The longevity and success of dental implants are dependent upon their ability to form an intimate contact with the surrounding jaw bone. The better this contact is, the higher will be the stability and longevity of the implant prosthesis.
Naturally, an implant will not be able to get embedded firmly inside the bone if there is insufficient bone available to support it. Unfortunately, bone loss becomes accelerated when a tooth is lost or in case of an underlying dental or bone infection. In these cases, the only option to restore the optimal level and density of jaw bone is to place a graft in the region where implant insertion has been planned.
What Types of Grafts are Used in Implant Dentistry?
Here are some of the different types of bone grafts used in implant dentistry:
- Autograft – the graft is taken from the same person but a different site in the body.
- Allograft – the graft is obtained from another human source.
- Xenograft – the graft is obtained from different species like bovine or porcine sources.
- Alloplastic – these grafts are prepared from artificial sources.
What to Expect During a Bone Graft Procedure?
Bone grafting is a surgical procedure. Therefore, it is carried out under the effect of anesthesia. Your dentist will make an incision over the soft tissue where the graft has to be placed on the bone, and a surgical flap will be raised. Your dentists will then carefully place the graft at the pre-planned site. The flap will then be sutured back into position.
It generally takes a few months before complete healing of the surgical site takes place, and the grafted bone becomes a part of the original bone. Once this happens, the implant insertion is planned. In very few cases when there is a need for a very small bone graft, the process can be done simultaneously with implant insertion. However, this decision will be made by your dentist while considering your oral and physical health status.
What to Expect after the Bone Graft Procedure?
After the surgery, you may experience some swelling, discomfort or minor bleeding. However, these symptoms usually go away very quickly. You should also consume a soft diet while the healing of the surgical site is taking place and after implant insertion. Maintaining optimal oral hygiene also goes a long way in ensuring the success of your surgical treatment.
Bone grafting is not necessarily required for each implant insertion procedure. However, if your dentist feels that you have insufficient jaw bone density, then it may become necessary for you. If you are planning to get your missing teeth replaced with dental implants, then you should also discuss the possibility of getting bone grafts.