Your jawbone plays a very important role in maintaining your smile and overall oral wellness. When people think of oral health, bone loss in the jaw typically does not come to mind. However, bone loss can occur as a result of periodontal disease. Other times, bone loss can happen as a result of oral injury. Regardless of the cause, a bone graft might be required to rebuild areas of the jaw that have deteriorated. So what is a dental bone graft and how does it work to improve your oral health?
In short, bone grafting is a procedure that a Board Certified oral surgeon performs on a regular basis to rebuild the strength and function of the jaw. During the procedure, the surgeon will rebuild the structure of the bone within the jaw. The end result not only restores your facial appearance but also provides proper support for implant-supported dental devices.
Like your natural teeth, implants need healthy bones to adhere to in the mouth in order to work. Only implant-supported tooth replacements can give you long-term solutions for missing teeth. They function more like your real teeth because they are much more stable than devices that sit on top of the gums or adhere to adjacent teeth. You’ll find that implant-supported devices give you the natural look and feel you want when replacing missing teeth.
Best Candidate for a Dental Bone Graft
Your dentist might recommend an oral bone graft if your jawbone has been damaged because of tooth loss, advanced periodontitis or oral trauma. Tooth loss can sometimes lead to the deterioration of the jawbone because the roots of the teeth are no longer stimulating the bone. Bridges and traditional removable dentures don’t engage the bone either. Only dental implants can maintain the health of your jawbone.
Your dentist will let you know if you’re a good candidate for a dental bone graft. In general, you should have no problems associated with bone grafting as long as you’re in good health. This relatively safe procedure can restore functionality to your jawbone.
What To Expect During Bone Grafting
Now that you know a bit more about bone grafting, you might have a few questions about what you should expect after choosing bone grafting. It’s important to remember that the procedure for bone grafting differs slightly depending on your needs and the type of graft that will be required. Also, the procedure differs depending on where the bone tissue will be sourced from for the graft.
The goal is to use advanced technology to minimize the amount of care that you’ll need after bone grafting. To achieve this, dentists use iCAT 3D scans to determine exactly how much bone tissue is necessary and from where that tissue should come. Some of the different types of bone grafts that dentists use include:
- Allograft — This type of bone grafting is done using bone tissue provided by another human source or a bone bank. This option is good for individuals who don’t have enough bone tissue to do a proper graft.
- Alloplast — With this type of procedure, dentists use synthetic biocompatible tissue to rebuild the structure of your jawbone. This option is great for individuals who don’t have enough bone tissue or a source from which to pull it.
- Autograft — Possibly one of the most common types of bone grafting, an autograft involves using bone tissue from other areas of your body, such as a hip, shin or chin. Then, this bone tissue is used to replenish the bone loss in your jaw.
- Xenograft — A xenograft procedure uses bone tissue from an animal. Typically, it comes from a cow, but other animals are used sometimes.
Your dentist will take your comfort very seriously during the procedure. Using state-of-the-art techniques and local anesthesia, the dentist will get the job done quickly so that you don’t have to suffer through discomfort. Usually, the whole procedure starts by numbing the graft site and assessing your jawbone through a small incision in your gums. This small incision allows for faster healing.
What To Expect After Dental Bone Graft
After your bone grafting, the new tissue will start to integrate with your jawbone. The goal is for your jawbone and the new tissue to form a solid foundation. This phase of the process is known as osseointegration, and it’s one of the most important phases of the process. This solid foundation will make it possible to get dental implants in the future.
Before you leave the dentist’s office, the team will provide all of the instructions that you need to care for your teeth following your bone grafting. Typically, these instructions tell you to maintain proper oral health with regular flossing and brushing. The overall goal is to keep your mouth healthy and the treatment site clean.
In some cases, antibiotics or pain medications might be prescribed. Pain medications alleviate any discomfort that you may feel, while antibiotics prevent infection. You’ll probably have a follow-up visit with your dentist to evaluate the overall healing process. If you still experience discomfort, bring it up to your dentist during your follow-up visit.
Does Insurance Cover the Procedure?
In some cases, bone grafts are covered by medical insurance. Your coverage will depend on your individual plan and provider. Most dental offices will contact your insurance provider prior to starting your graft to determine your benefits. During this time, they will tell you the anticipated out-of-pocket costs that you will be expected to cover.
For those who don’t have insurance or need help covering out-of-pocket expenses, most dental offices offer several payment options. Programs like CareCredit® can break up the cost into more manageable payments. This option is often better for many individuals than charging the full amount to their credit cards. The reason is that these programs generally have lower interest rates.
Talk to Your Dentist About Bone Grafting
If you want implant-supported dentures but don’t have the jawbone to support them, bone grafting may be the right option for you. This procedure can create a strong and healthy foundation for your dental implants. To learn more about bone grafting, reach out to our dentists today to schedule a consultation and to take your first steps toward controlling your oral health.