Dental bone grafting is a procedure that is used to increase the amount of bone in the jaw. This bone may have deteriorated or been lost as a result of trauma, tooth extraction, or a tooth falling out due to decay or disease.
Many people are surprised to discover that the root of each tooth does more than simply securing the tooth in place. The root is the main source of blood and nutrients to the tooth to keep it healthy, but it also stimulates the bone of the jaw around it, keeping it healthy and strong. When a tooth is removed, becomes infected, or dies, the root no longer effectively does this job, and this can lead to the jawbone deteriorating.
While some people may undergo bone grafting to improve their facial structure and the position of their bite, it is most often recommended for patients undergoing dental restoration – and in particular, dentures or dental implants. In fact, it may be impossible for you to receive dental implants without first having a bone grafting procedure.
In the earliest stages, you probably won’t know if your jawbone is deteriorating. However, as the bone continues to degenerate, you may notice one or more of the following:
Changes in your bite
Changes in your facial structure
Shifting or loosening of your other teeth
Skin becoming wrinkled around your mouth
The lower half of your face seems sunken or fallen
Headaches, jaw pain, and facial pain
Difficulty eating or speaking
If you already wear dentures, you may also notice a change in the way that they fit and they may become loose or uncomfortable.
Bone grafting is a fairly straightforward procedure that can be performed using a combination of local anesthetic and sedation. The donor bone that is used may be taken from another part of your own body (usually the shin or hip), but many dentists prefer to use an alternative source such as donated human bone, animal bone, or even synthetic bone. This helps avoid the need for a second surgical site, improving the patient experience and recovery and these alternatives prove just as successful.
The gum is cut to expose the bone beneath, and the new bone is grafted onto it using a special mesh that helps the two to attach to one another. The gum is then sealed over the area using sutures and left to heal. The entire procedure usually takes less than two hours from start to finish. Patients can expect to fully recover within a couple of weeks, during which time they will be given specific instruction on how to care for the wound site, what to eat, what foods and activities to avoid, and what pain relief they should use if necessary.
It can take between three and six months for the new bone to fuse to the existing bone and improve the overall strength and integrity of the jaw. Once your dentist is satisfied that the procedure has been successful, they will be able to talk to you about your treatment options for restoring any missing teeth, such as dental implants or implant-supported dentures.
To find out more about bone grafting, please don’t hesitate to speak to our experienced and knowledgeable dental team at Midtown Dental Center in Atlanta, GA. Call (404) 874-0800 to schedule an appointment.