A dental bone graft is a supplementary dental surgical operation executed as part of the completion of another dental treatment procedure, usually in the placement of dental implants. A bone graft is not always necessary, but becomes a necessity in certain conditions. For a dental implant treatment to be successful, the patient’s jawbone should be able to accommodate and hold firmly on to the dental implant. But if the patient seeking dental implants does not have enough bone in the jaw area, the implant won’t hold. In such cases, a bone graft procedure will take a piece of bone from another side of the body and add it to your jawbone.
Bone grafting falls under the treatment category called bone augmentation. The natureof bone grafting procedure to be done depends on the location of the area where the bone has to be placed and on the number of implants that are involved in the treatment. A bone graft is a critical procedure and should be thoroughly discussed with a licensed and trusted dentist before you go ahead.
Questions to Ask About the Dental Bone Graft Surgery
- Why Doesn’t Your Jaw Have Enough Bone?
- Where is The Bone Taken?
- How Does the Dental Bone Grafting Procedure Go?
1. Why Doesn’t Your Jaw Have Enough Bone?
In the natural scheme of things, the jawbone should have enough bone to hold an implant and a dental bone graft is not necessary. However, there are some factors that can cause the loss of bone. First, you can lose some bone under the gums if you have periodontal gum disease, which leads to both bone loss and tooth loss. Also, some hereditary or development factors may also make your jaw too short or too narrow to have enough bone for implants.
You may or may not need a bone grafting procedure prior to your implant surgery depending on the evaluation and diagnosis of your dentist. If there are several implants to be placed, the bone graft surgery has to be more specific in determining which areas need more bone and which do not. This also means more bones are necessary.
2. Where is The Bone Taken?
In a bone graft procedure, it is always preferable that the bone be taken from your own body. Usually, the bone is taken either from the chin or from behind the lower jaw. However, there are cases where there is still not enough bone that can be safely extracted from these areas. If so, the bone can also be taken from your hip or your shin, with dentist preferences veering towards the hip bone because of its higher content of marrow or soft tissues than that of the shin bone.
Some patients may also request for bone from external sources. In such situations, dentists usually use bones from animals, such as cows, or sometimes from human cadavers. Some people do not find this appealing though, so some dentists also take to using synthetic materials combined with any of these natural bone sources.
3. How Does the Dental Bone Grafting Procedure Go?
The dental bone graft procedure can be conducted in a dentist’s clinic. It begins with a local anesthetic in the two areas involved: the area where the bone will be placed, and the area where it will be taken. After that, the dentist has to check how much bone will be needed and what particular kind of bone would be most suitable by making a cut in the gums in the site where the implant will be placed.
Once the dentist has determined these, he or she will then make an incision in the area where the bone will be taken. A piece of bone of the right size will be removed along with the bone marrow. The area where the bone was removed will also be filled with another bone-graft material and covered with a thin layer of tissue or membrane so that soft tissue won’t fill up the space. Before the bone is implanted into the gums, the incision at the donor site will first be stitched up.
Next comes the implanting part. The dentist has to facilitate bleeding by drilling tiny holes in the existing bone. The donated bone will then be placed and secured by titanium screws, and the bleeding will supply cells that are needed for faster healing of the bone. The edges of the added bone will then be finished with bone marrow then covered with a membrane before the area is finally closed up.
After the Bone Graft – The Dental Implant Surgery
The dental bone graft procedure is followed by a healing period that can last between 6 months and 1 year. Patients are usually given antibiotics and should refrain from eating certain foods that put pressure on the operated area. After the bone graft heals, the implants may then be placed.