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Bone grafting is not a common phrase, even for those who have visited the dentist. However, it is a procedure that is done, especially on patients who may be given dental implants. Despite this procedure being less known, it should not make you feel nervous or afraid. Bone grafting is a normal part of dental care and is painless for the most part. Bone grafting happens during the preparation stage just before dental implant surgery. The bone grafting procedure is crucial in helping regenerate bone that is lost as a result of:

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What Happens During Bone Grafting?

Typically, bone grafting involves removing a bone piece from another part of the body and transplanting it into the jaw of the patient.

Today, however, there are other bone sources, including animals and cadaver, which are just as successful and less invasive to the patient as it prevents a second surgical site. The bone graft provides a solid base for the periodontist to put a dental implant, but it may take several months before the transplant is done.

The transplanted bone has to grow enough before the dental implant procedure is done.

The Contribution of Tooth Loss to Bone Loss

The alveolar bone supports and holds the teeth in the mouth. When you lose a tooth, the bone starts to degenerate and weaken.

Normally, the jawbone builds up its strength as a result of activity-chewing. When you lose the alveolar bone, you lose your jawbone too. For you to safely handle dental implants, your jaw has to be strong enough.

The next step is to ensure that the implant bonds with the bone for stability.

Different Types of Bone Grafts

There are different types of bone grafts, and they are defined by the location of tooth loss and the extent of the damage. We outline them below:

  • Socket graft. The socket graft is the most common type of graft. It is meant to prevent the alveolar bone’s deterioration and prevents the socket from collapsing. A donor’s bone is placed into the socket during this type of graft. The socket graft takes approximately six months before a patient is ready for an implant. One of the advantages of having these grafts is that it reduces the pain an individual suffers after surgery.
  • Block bone graft. This type of graft is used when the lower jaw suffers a defect. A small bone block is harvested from the jaw’s back and placed where there is a defect. The bone is then held in place with titanium screws. It takes approximately four to six months for this type of graft to heal.
  • Sinus lift. Periodontists use this procedure when a patient needs a transplant in the upper jaw. They use the equine bone in this case to expand a graft. The equine bone is used because of its ability to remain undissolved for longer than human bone, and yet it has the same properties. It provides a platform that supports the growth of the sinus bone. Since the sinus cavity is sensitive, the healing can take up to 12 months. Some patients heal as early as after eight months.
  • Lateral ridge preservation graft. This type of bone graft is done to increase the jaw’s width so that it can accommodate dental implants. Periodontists use human bones for this type of graft. It takes around four to six months to heal.

Bone graft FAQs

Bone grafts are painless, which is why they are carried out by periodontists as an outpatient procedure on almost a daily basis.

The patients are sedated during grafting, which means that there is no pain. You will not feel any pain even as the graft heals, and you will be ready for dental implants once the graft site is healed.

After the dental implants have been put in place, you can enjoy your new and improved smile.

Despite bone grafting being a painless procedure, periodontists are careful to ensure that the wound heals and remains healthy. After surgery, the patient is given antibiotics and, sometimes, pain medication.

Next, the doctor will continue observing to ensure that the grafted bone fuses with your natural bones. While everyone’s mouth bones heal differently, the period varies anywhere between three months and a year. During this time, your doctor will check up on you regularly to ensure everything is going well.

After the bone graft, you must practice proper dental hygiene. When your gums are clean and healthy, you can heal properly and comfortably without further complications. However, you should note that some people’s gums become sensitive post-surgery.

Therefore, it is vital that you invest in an extra soft brush, especially in the days following this surgery. You should avoid dense foods, smoking, and drinking out of a straw.

While this is a relatively common procedure, not everyone will need it before a bone transplant. To know whether you need one, you will need to book a consultation with your dentist or periodontist.

Professionals are in a position to determine whether you need a bone graft and which type will be useful for your case. However, your chances of getting a bone graft are higher if you have lost a tooth. Sometimes, it does not matter how long it is after losing the tooth. 

A bone graft is likely to be done for reasons, including the fact that the tooth cannot support immediate replacement or an infection in the socket. Many people take some time after losing a tooth to come for an implant for logistical or financial reasons.

Therefore, it pays to book an appointment and know whether you will need the procedure. If you need it, you have enough time to prepare for both the grafting and implant.