Although bone grafting is used for a number of reasons, the most common is to prepare the upper or lower jaw for dental implant placement. If you’re getting dental implants and you’ve been told that bone grafting is needed, you may feel anxious about what the procedure entails, but rest assured: it’s much simpler than most people expect it to be.
Bone grafting is also more common than most people think; if your teeth have been missing for enough time, it’s very likely that the bone that once supported them has deteriorated. When this occurs, there isn’t enough bone mass available to support dental implants and the restorations that attach to them. With bone grafting, we can rebuild the jawbone to give your dental implants a stable foundation of support.
What Happens During a Bone Grafting Procedure
Although bone grafting for the jaw seems like it would be a complicated surgical procedure, it can be completed in our office with only local anesthetic. Before Dr. Park begins treatment, your gum tissue is numbed so a small incision can be made near the section of jawbone that needs to be rebuilt. Bone grafting material is inserted into the jaw, then sutures are used to close the incision.
Grafting material can come from your own body (the back of the jaw is commonly used for this particular treatment), or it can be synthetic or sourced from an animal. Bone grafts come in gel, powder, putty, or granule form, but each works to stimulate your body's natural ability to regrow bone where it has been lost. The bone graft and your own bone will eventually fuse together, providing you with the necessary support for successful dental implant placement.
What to Expect After Bone Grafting
You won't feel any pain during your bone grafting treatment, but when the anesthetic wears off, you'll notice tenderness and swelling. The surgical site is usually sore for a few days, but the discomfort is minimal. Over-the-counter pain relievers, cold compresses, and a diet of soft, easy-to-chew foods can help you manage any discomfort.
Following your bone grafting treatment, your body will continue to grow new bone for several months. You may be eager to get your dental implants, but it's important to wait so we can make sure you have the necessary bone for support. Implants that are placed without enough jawbone support are more likely to fail because they can become loose, shift in your mouth, or even fall out when you place stress on them while biting.
Other Reasons for Bone Grafting
Some patients need bone grafting for reasons other than dental implant surgery. Bone grafting can be used to rebuild the jaw or other facial structures after the removal of a tumor or trauma. Major bone grafting procedures in a hospital setting may be needed for patients with congenital defects; in these cases, grafting is typically taken from the skull or hip.