While most people have heard of dental implants, they have less likely heard about bone grafting. However, dental implants and bone grafting often go together simultaneously in the dental industry.
In short, a bone graft is essentially a surgical procedure to rebuild or repair bones through the transplantation of bone tissue. In transplanting healthy bone tissue, your dentist will recreate bone and supporting tissues that are missing where a person lost a tooth or multiple teeth.
To help you better understand this process, we can compare it to repairing a hole in your drywall. If you are repairing a hole in a wall of your house, the first thing you need to do is fill the void with a piece of drywall that fits snugly in the space. Then, you will need to cover the drywall patch with a joint compound to seal off the area and finish it off with a bit of paint. Just like that, your wall looks like new.
Similarly, bone grafting is a way to attempt to repair a hole in your jawbone. If you have lost a tooth due to decay or injury, the hole in your jawbone where the root was embedded needs to be filled with bone, or you risk your mouth collapsing in the space. Once this happens, you will risk never having a successful implant because there will not be enough bone to hold your new implant in place. So, the sooner you have a bone graft completed after you lose a tooth, the less intense the grafting process will be and the higher chance you will have a successful dental implant procedure.
How is the hole repaired?
Your dentist will start using bone particles to fill the hole in your jawbone. Then, they will cover the affected area with a sterile bandage called a membrane. As soon as your body accepts these into your mouth, your dentist will evaluate the area and hopefully start the first implant treatment.
The Different Levels of Bone Grafting
- Socket Grafts
Socket grafts are usually performed right after a tooth is removed to save the alveolar ridge and prevent any bone deterioration from occurring. Your dentist will insert bone material into the vacant socket that is left by the lost tooth.
Typically, modern-day sockets grafts will use xenograft materials known as bone from non-human sources like cows. Over time, your body will adjust to the foreign bone material until it eventually becomes human bone. This process can take anywhere between 3 to 6 months for the graft to heal before your dentist can attach a dental implant.
- Block Bone Grafts
Block bone grafts typically use human bones in the form of a small “block” taken from the patient’s lower jaw or chin where they once had some teeth.
Like a socket graft, a block bone graft has about the same healing time but is selectively used when a xenograft cannot render an adequate bone thickness for the already deteriorated ridge.
- Sinus Lift Grafts
Sinus lift grafts are most commonly used when a patient requires an implant in the upper jaw. In addition to this area not being stable enough to hold a dental implant, a sinus lift graft will be performed if the space where the dental implant is needed is too close to the maxillary sinus cavity.
In a sinus lift graft, the dentist will usually use equine bone since it is microscopically comparable to human bone but does not dissolve as quickly. This procedure helps promote bone growth in the sinus, and the healing process is usually anywhere between 8 to 12 months.
North County Dental Care brings together a host of dental specialists to provide a full spectrum of dental care for you and your family, all in one convenient location. Our family dentistry office in Vista, California, does not require referrals or running from one specialist’s office to another to receive the care you need. Best of all, we treat patients of all ages so that you can schedule your family member’s dental appointments all in one place.