The good news about dental implants is that most people who want to get them to replace missing natural teeth can do so. However, some patients have a weak foundation near the spot of the future implant that can require a procedure known as a bone graft before installing the dental implants. Numerous conditions can cause a lack of adequate bone strength in the mouth, including the following:
- The bone surrounding the dental implant area is too short or thin
- Existing gum disease
- Certain pre-existing medical conditions
- Dentures that do not fit properly in your mouth
- Having several teeth extracted in the past
- General bone density weakness
- Damage to your teeth and gums from acid erosion
- Having several cavities
- Cracks in the teeth
- Infection in the bones of your jaw
The purpose of a bone graft is to allow your mouth to regenerate new bone that will provide enough strength to support your new dental implants.
What to Expect if You Need a Bone Graft
The first thing your oral surgeon will do when completing a bone graft is to remove small portions of bone from another area of your mouth with a scalpel. You do not feel anything during this process because you would have already received anesthesia. After removing the bone fragments, the next step it to transfer it immediately to the location of your future dental implant. Whether you will require stiches depends on the amount of bone fragments your dentist needs to remove.
In the event that your oral surgeon must remove a large amount of bone, he or she may need to cut into the area of bone to get a better view of your gum tissue. Technically, oral surgeons refer to this process as reflecting a full thickness periosteal flap. Thanks to this procedure, patients who couldn’t get dental implants in the past due to inadequate bone strength can now qualify to receive them.
After the Bone Graft Procedure
You don’t need to dedicate much time to recovery if you need a bone graft because the procedure is minimally invasive. Should you experience any pain when you get home and the anesthesia wears away, you can take a non-prescription pain reliever such as ibuprofen up to four times a day. Additionally, placing an ice pack on your cheek can help to reduce swelling. Not everyone experiences pain and swelling, and those who do typically report that it lasts for less than a day.
Be sure not to brush near or on the site of your bone graft for a few days and avoid mouthwash since this could lead to an infection in your wound. You should continue to follow your normal oral hygiene routine except for these precautions. We also recommend using warm salt water to rinse your mouth a few times a day as this helps to keep your mouth clean and eases discomfort.
A bone graft is a very quick procedure that causes minimal discomfort. Just think of it as something you need to do to enjoy the many benefits of replacing missing teeth with natural-looking dental implants. Please don’t hesitate to contact Southbridge Dentistry in Littleton, Colorado if you have additional questions or concerns.