What You Should Know
Missing Teeth Impact Your Health
Losing one or more of your teeth, if left untreated, can impact much more than just your smile. Poor chewing and the inability to eat a complete diet are ﬁrst in a chain of events that can lead to serious consequences.
Without the support of your teeth and jawbone, your face may change shape or appear prematurely aged. Poor nutrition from loss of chewing function may also contribute to a number of unrelated health problems.
Whether your tooth loss is due to an accident or periodontal disease, there are treatment options for you to reverse the damage and restore your mouth to natural function and good health.
What Is Bone Grafting?
Bone grafting is a surgical procedure to replace missing bone with material either from a patient’s own body or a natural or synthetic substitute. This procedure is performed with the aim of stimulating new bone formation in the body.
“Autograft” means tissue implanted from one part of the body to another in the same individual. Traditionally, surgeons have used a patient’s own bone, but harvesting this bone requires an additional surgical procedure.
There are several drawbacks to this approach. First, your body does not offer an unlimited supply of bone, as there is only so much bone the surgeon can remove without creating another problem. Second, the harvesting procedure can be painful and more severe than the bone grafting surgery. These disadvantages of autografts have led the way for the use one natural or synthetic materials from sources outside of the body, known as “bone grafting substitutes."
Is Bone Grafting The Right Fit For Your Oral Health?
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Types Of Bone Grafting Procedures
Socket Extractions / Socket Preservations - These grafting procedures occur at the time of tooth extractions and are the best way to preserve bone. Immediately after the tooth is removed, grafting material is placed in the space once occupied by the root. A grafting membrane, which protects the newly placed bone, is the secured into place by several sutures.
Ridge Augmentations - In some cases, the ridge of bone is too narrow to support a dental implant because of an earlier extraction without bone grafting. The bone needs to be separated to expand the ridge and then ﬁlled with grafting material to provide a wider and deeper space to place the dental implant.
Sinus Augmentations / Sinus Lifts - When an upper posterior tooth is lost, the upper bone thins. This is a challenge because of the close proximity to the sinuses. In this case, a simple procedure, known as a sinus lift, repositions the sinus ﬂoor and bone grafting material is added to ﬁll the tooth socket, which will create, after several months, adequate space for the dental implant.
Commonly Asked Questions
The visit to perform bone grafting is approximately one hour, depending on other procedures that may occur at the same time, such as tooth extractions or a sinus lift. Subsequent visits for dental implants can take an hour or longer, depending on how many implants will be placed.
You will feel nothing during these procedures because your dental professional will numb the area with “novocaine” or utilize pain prevention techniques. You may experience mild discomfort after the procedure. Your dental professional will recommend how to treat the discomfort.
Your treatment plan is unique to your speciﬁc oral situation. Your dental professional will prepare a plan of treatment and review expenses with you.
If the injured or diseased pulp is not removed, the tissues surrounding the root of the tooth can become infected, resulting in pain and swelling. Even if there is no pain, certain substances released by bacteria can damage the bone that anchors the tooth in the jaw. Without treatment, the tooth may have to be removed.
Bone grafting and dental implants are a permanent solution for missing teeth and are highly successful - over 90% of the time they are trouble-free, according to various studies. With proper care, you can expect a natural looking, permanent solution to missing teeth.
Ask Your Doctor
It is important to ask your doctor about grafting material choices. The most optimal grafting materials are those that are fully resorbable. This means hat the grafting material is absorbed into your body as it is converted into permanent bone. In essence, your body will grow its own bone using the grafting material as “fuel.” Grafting materials that merely ﬁll the space and do not convert to your own bone are not as desirable and may jeopardize the durability and strength of your jaw line.
Maintaining Oral Health
After bone grafting, your oral care is the same as after any dental surgical procedure. The area must be kept clean with the help of a mouth rinse your dental professional will recommend. You may take antibiotics if prescribed by your doctor. Brush and ﬂoss as you normally do and avoid pressure over the graft site and around the gum tissues that surround it until well healed (about six weeks).
If you choose dental implants, your replacement tooth will function just like your natural tooth. Proper brushing and ﬂossing along with regular checkups with your dentist will ensure the longevity of your dental implant. Similar to a tree that remains stable and healthy from its root system, your new dental implant rooted in healthy new bone will keep your bite stable and ensure long-term oral health.