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There’s no denying that dental implants have revolutionised the way we deal with missing teeth. Nowadays, implant restorations offer a truly effective and permanent way of dealing with the replacement of teeth that are lost due to tooth decay, gum disease, infection or trauma. While many people are aware of the benefits of implant-based restorations, people are less aware of one particular part of this procedure – a bone graft for a dental implant. 


What Exactly is a Bone Graft for Tooth Implant and Why Would You Need a Bone Graft Procedure?

Although the term sounds like it might be incredibly complex, the truth is that a bone graft is a routine procedure. As the name suggests, the process typically involves the removal of a piece of bone either from the jaw or other part of the body and grafting it onto the jawbone prior to dental implant placement. In some cases, bone can be obtained from a cadaver, but also from animals or more recently, it can be made synthetically. These latter options prevent the problem of generating a second surgical site.


So why is a bone graft procedure needed?

In order for a dental implant to remain stable in the jaw, it needs to be able to fuse with existing bone tissue. The same bone tissue needs to be both healthy and plentiful. When severe gum disease or trauma resulting in tooth loss occurs, however, bone tissue can diminish due to atrophy or deterioration. As a result, there isn’t always sufficient or healthy amounts of bone available to safely place a dental implant or dental implants

Getting a free consultation at your local dental clinic will allow your dentist to determine if there is sufficient bone available; if not, there’s a strong chance that they will suggest a bone graft for a dental implant.


How long does the bone grafting process take?

Typically a bone graft is carried out chair-side under light sedation and takes somewhere between 45-90 minutes to perform. However, although any initial recovery time takes 1-2 weeks, patients can expect to wait for somewhere between 3- 5 months before any dental implants can be placed.

The reason for this is that once grafted into place, the new bone tissue needs time to bond with any existing bone before it becomes stable enough to hold a dental implant.

In other words, the site needs to become a single solid, healthy, bone mass.

Naturally, this will have implications on timescales for anyone considering dental implants and should be factored in accordingly.


Is a bone graft procedure always necessary before the placement of dental implants?

In a word no! Although you should discuss your options at a free consultation with your dentist.

Research suggests that somewhere between 50% and 70% of those with missing teeth require a bone graft procedure prior to dental implant placement. Typically, however, this is because the problem of a missing tooth has not been addressed quickly enough. 

A missing tooth is like a ticking time bomb for your oral health and can trigger off a string of events that can lead to the downfall of other healthy teeth. 

In just one year after tooth loss, for example, a patient can expect to lose around 25% of their jaw bone structure. This is why acting fast is key after tooth loss. 

In cases where teeth are removed and dental implants are immediately placed, or in cases where a patient takes action within a few days of tooth loss, say after experiencing trauma, then a bone graft won’t always be necessary prior to undergo dental implants. 

However, if a person for whatever reason has ignored the situation or has suffered severe gum disease, then in most cases, bone grafting before undergoing any form of dental implants surgery is inevitable.


What about recovery after bone grafting?

For the first few days, patients may feel slight discomfort and experience some bruising or swelling. Your dentist will prescribe antibiotics or pain killers to help alleviate any discomfort and to prevent infection. Typically after 7-10 days, the site should have healed nicely, you should feel no pain or discomfort, and you should be able to carry out your normal daily activities. 

As already mentioned, however, patience is the key here because although you may feel fit and healthy, your dentist needs to ensure that the bone graft has completely integrated with the existing bone before dental implants can be placed. For this reason, you can expect to undergo regular return visits to your dentist over the coming weeks so they can check on progress. Once your dentist gives the go-ahead, you can receive dental implants treatments as per normal. 

Treatments like a bone graft for a dental implant is an effective procedure that allows you to eventually replace missing teeth with a permanent and life-changing solution. If you are a likely candidate for a bone graft, request a free consultation at your local dental clinic. Call our experienced team at Beyond 32 Dental.

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