Dental implants are a highly successful method for replacing any number of missing teeth. Patients who are eligible for this procedure are highly encouraged to select this route. Even those who do not currently have sufficient bone structure present for dental implants may still benefit with the help of a bone graft. Keep reading to learn more about why your dentist may recommend a bone graft before dental implants, and what it means for you if you need one.
Why Are Bone Grafts Necessary?
Dental implants require plenty of strong, healthy, thick bone tissue for proper anchoring. Without it, the implant post may not be able to fully fuse together with the jaw bone. Fortunately, these failure cases are rare. Over 98% of dental implant procedures are successful after 5 years, thanks to bone grafts and advanced technology.
After a careful evaluation with special CT scans, your dentist may recommend a bone graft prior to a dental implant placement if…
- You have been missing teeth for a long time. Tooth loss causes the jaw bone to weaken due to disuse.
- You have had gum disease. The infection eats away at healthy gum and bone tissue, inhibiting the success of dental implants.
- The implant will be placed in a tight or weaker space. Sometimes, your oral anatomy can require the need for a bone graft. For example, a special type of graft is often required for replacing the upper molars.
What Types of Bone Grafts Are There?
To perform a bone graft, your dentist or oral surgeon adds healthy donor bone tissue to the area where it is lacking. This tissue can be taken from elsewhere in the mouth (the most common method), from another part of the body, or from a cadaver/cow’s bone. A sinus lift is a special type of bone graft which involves adding extra bone tissue under the sinus before the placement of a dental implant in the upper molars.
What Can I Expect From a Bone Graft?
Bone grafts can be performed anywhere in the mouth and will usually require a healing period before the dental implant can be placed. To keep you comfortable, your dentist or oral surgeon will use anesthesia and possibly sedation for added relaxation. You should plan to rest and relax right after the procedure is complete. Follow all post-operative instructions and you should be feeling back to normal in a few days. Your dentist will give you a timeline for how soon you can plan on having the dental implant placed after the bone graft is complete. It may take anywhere from 4 to 6 months for the bone to solidify after grafting.
To conclude, finding out you need a bone graft is actually positive news — it means you can still enjoy the significant advantages of dental implants!
Meet the Dentist
Dr. L. Blaine Kennington is an expert restorative dentist offering a broad range of treatments related to dental implants. If you need a bone graft or would like to learn about your options in tooth replacement, you are invited to contact the office by calling (360) 274-9100!