Bone Grafting for Dental Implants: What You Should Know

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It’s common for patients to need bone grafts prior to dental implant surgery, particularly if they have had gum disease or their teeth have been missing for some time. When a tooth is missing, it sends a signal to the body that the supporting bone structure is no longer needed; the body then begins to break down the bone and transport its minerals to other parts of the body, a process called resorption. This presents a problem when it’s time to place dental implants, as they need a stable base of support.

Bone grafting is a simple periodontal procedure that allows us to restore your jawbone so it has the density needed to support your dental implants.

What Happens During a Bone Grafting Procedure

Although bone grafting may sound intimidating, many patients are surprised by how simple the procedure is. We use local anesthetic injections to ensure that your gum tissue is numb before we start any work. A small incision is made in the gum near the area where the jawbone needs to be augmented. The graft is placed in the jaw through the incision, then sutures are used to close the gums.

Bone grafts can be harvested from your own body—often the back of the jaw—or we can use synthetic bone grafting material. Grafts come in many forms, including gel, putty, powder, and granules, but they all perform the same job of encouraging your body to grow new bone where it has been lost. Over time, the graft and your own bone fuse together, which gives us the support needed to successfully place dental implants.

What to Expect After Bone Grafting

While you won’t feel any pain during your bone grafting procedure, as the anesthetic begins to wear off, you’ll start to feel some tenderness. You can expect to experience inflammation, swelling, and soreness for several days after undergoing bone grafting. The discomfort is usually minor and can be treated at home with a diet of soft foods, cold compresses, and over-the-counter pain relievers as needed.

Bone regeneration is not an overnight process. For most patients, it can take up to several months to see results from a bone grafting procedure. During this time, your body is slowly building new bone. While you may be anxious to get your implants, it’s important not to rush the process; we can’t proceed with dental implant surgery until we’re sure you have the bone density needed to support your dental implants. Without proper support, dental implants can become loose, shift, and even fall out. Bone grafts lay the groundwork for a successful outcome.

While waiting for your jawbone to regenerate, we can provide you with a temporary restoration to replace your missing tooth (or teeth) so you can smile with confidence.

Learn More About Bone Grafting

If you need bone grafting before your dental implant surgery and you’d like to learn more or schedule a consultation with one of our doctors, contact us today.