A dental bone graft can be necessary in a number of different situations. For example, if you are getting implants and your jaw bone has deteriorated, you may need a bone graft. Here’s a look at that process and what to expect.
When Are Dental Bone Grafts Necessary?
As indicated above, if you are getting dental implants, you may need a bone graft if part of your jaw has deteriorated. If you’ve had a lot of teeth extracted, your jaw bone can naturally deteriorate. Basically, when the bone isn’t holding teeth in place, the body believes it doesn’t need the jaw bone and it starts to disappear.
In other cases, patients may need a bone graft if they have sustained an injury that has damaged their jaw bone. Similarly, if you have a congenital disease that causes you to have less jaw bone than usual, you may also be a candidate for a dental bone graft.
What Happens Before a Bone Graft?
A dental bone graft is not something that can be completed in a single appointment. If you need a bone graft, your oral surgeon will start by taking images of your bone. Generally, that process uses a computed tomography (CT) scan. This is a special type of X-ray that creates a cross-sectional image of your bone. You may be able to get this done in the oral surgeon’s office, or you may have to go to an imaging clinic.
These images are critical, and the oral surgeon needs those images so they can make a treatment plan for you. During this appointment or during an additional consultation, you also need to decide whether you want to use processed bone or bone harvested from another part of your body. If you prefer harvested bone, the oral surgeon will also help advise you on which body parts it makes sense to use.
The most popular body parts to harvest for a dental bone graft are your jaw, hip, or tibia (lower leg bone), and sometimes skull bone can also work.
What Is the Bone Graft Process?
The dental bone graft process can vary based on your unique situation. In all cases, however, this is a relatively serious procedure, and it may require a hospital stay.
The process starts by removing bone from the harvest area. Then, that bone or bone from a tissue bank is placed into the desired spot. The oral surgeon may surround the bone with special membranes. Over time, those dissolve, but as the new bone is ossifying to the old bone, these tissues help to hold everything in place. This is called guided bone regeneration.
What Happens After the Bone Graft?
After the bone graft, most patients experience some pain. Typically, you can subdue that with an over-the-counter painkiller like ibuprofen and some ice. You may need to take a round of antibiotics. That helps to fight against infection.
You may need to eat special foods such as a soft diet. You may also need to avoid putting pressure on that area, and you may need to follow other special instructions from your oral surgeon. It can take six to nine months for a dental bone graft to heal.
If you think you need a dental bone graft, contact us by filling out our online form. At Greater Atlanta Oral Facial Surgery, our Board Certified oral surgeons offer bone grafts as well as a range of other procedures.