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What Is a Dental Bone Graft?
Some dental patients require a bone graft to successfully undergo related procedures, like the insertion of dental implants. The jawbone can be one of the most adaptable bones in the body. The jawbone's ability to change over time is what makes it possible for an orthodontist to move teeth with braces. When a tooth is lost, the jawbone also changes, and in some situations, this can lead to the need for a bone graft.
About the jawbone
In the case of tooth loss, the bone of the jaw that used to surround the root of the lost tooth begins to deteriorate, or resorb. The jawbone can also resorb in the case of advanced periodontal (or gum) disease. If enough teeth are lost, the amount of bone that resorbs will be sufficient to change a person’s facial features.
Usually, a person suffering from advanced jawbone loss will have features that sag, giving them a more aged appearance. Unfortunately, this bone loss can also complicate any treatment used to replace lost teeth. Thankfully, lost bone can be built up again with bone grafting techniques.
What is bone grafting?
Bone grafting is a kind of surgical procedure performed in a dental office. An incision is made the gums of the patient so that the bone beneath can be accessed. Then, the bone grafting material is added to the existing jawbone. The grafting material is usually a form of processed bone minerals, which a patient’s body will adapt to by adding new bone cells.
Sometimes the grafting material comes from the patient’s body, but most often it is from an animal or human donor. The bone used in this way has been treated by a laboratory to sterilize it, and it is safe for use in the patient’s body. Sometimes, bone grafting material can be synthetic in nature.
How bone grafts are used
Bone grafts are most commonly used in dentistry for the following procedures.
- To save teeth: In the case of advanced periodontal disease, teeth can become loose as a result of bone loss. In order to save these loose teeth, the bone around them is repaired through a graft
- For tooth extractions: It has become common to use bone grafting material in an empty tooth socket after a tooth has been removed. This prevents the jawbone from resorbing
- For dental implants: In dental implants, a small titanium post is embedded in the jawbone. To this post, a very realistic dental crown is affixed, permanently replacing the lost tooth
What to expect from a bone graft procedure
This is usually a simple procedure that requires only local anesthesia. There may be some soreness in the area after the surgery, but it is usually minimal and can be managed by over-the-counter medication. Over the next several months, the patient’s body will replace the graft with its own bone cells, reversing any decline in bone density or volume.
Do you currently need a dental bone graft?
If you have been told you may need a dental bone graft for one reason or another, your next best step is to consult with a qualified dental professional in your area. Contact our office today.
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