When you hear the term bone grafting, what is the first thing you think of? If you are like most people, you probably will have assumed that it has to do with some serious surgery to correct the aftermath of a car accident or a genetic defect. But would you believe that this procedure is being done, right now, on a daily basis in a dental office? True and it is linked to the largest growing cosmetic dentistry procedure today, the dental implant procedure.
What is a Dental Implant?
For years, when patients wanted to get their teeth replaced, they had to rely on getting false teeth, better known as dentures. This was a long process to go through, especially if you had many teeth to be extracted or if an infection was present. Once your original teeth were removed and your gums had healed, which could take weeks, a mold would then be made of the area you wanted the dentures for. Back then, you could get partials, which were an extended version of bridges to cover gaps or a top plate for the upper teeth replacement, or a bottom plate or both.
Once the mold was made, it was sent off to a dental appliance firm to get the dentures created. Even after waiting more weeks for the appliances to arrive and fitted, it was hardly a done deal, because your gums might have shrunk more during the interval, leading to more visits while the appliances were adjusted to fit. Even after all of that, some people would only wear their dentures for eating or being out in public, because they were often uncomfortable to deal with. Technology advanced and now we have the ability to implant the false teeth, one by one, directly into your mouth through cosmetic dental surgery. Less drama for both the patient and the dentist, but there are still things to be considered before going through with the surgery.
Considerations for Dental Implants
The commercials for this procedure make it sound so effortless, that you simply choose to have dental implants instead of dentures to replace any missing teeth. While this might be true for some patients, it is important to remember that not everyone will be a viable candidate for dental implant surgery. A lot of it will depend upon your past dental history and the current condition of your jaw bone.
Every time you have a gum infection or have a tooth pulled, there is a chance that your jaw bone will suffer some erosion as an after-effect. Your dentist needs to be certain that your jaw bone is healthy enough to withstand the implantation of the ceramic teeth and that it will remain stable enough to secure them and support them over time.
What is a Bone Graft and How Does It Apply to Dental Implants?
If your jaw bone is not currently sufficient to secure and support dental implants, your dentist will have to do some bone grafting to build it into the proper structure. To do this, your dentist has two options for obtaining the bone graft, either from somewhere else in your body or from an outside source, such as animal bone or a donor bone from a bone bank. Thanks to advances in dental technology, the chance of your body rejecting any bone implant is very slim today.
The surgery will be done in the dentist’s office and will involve implanting a section of bone in the area where the tooth implant would eventually go. Given time, it will anchor itself to your jaw bone, and grow a sufficient amount to facilitate the tooth implant being done. In rare cases where bone grafting is impossible, a support plate can still be inserted to stabilize the jaw bone for dental implants. This is not an overnight deal. It can take as long as six months, or more, to form the right platform within your jaw for your new teeth.