You probably already know that your skeleton is made of bone, a hard material that makes your body strong. But did you know that inside of your bones there are actual living bone cells that keep your bone structure healthy? These cells also help fix your bones and help them heal after an injury.
Bone Graft after Bone Loss
If you break a bone, it starts to heal, and if the injury is small, your bone cells will fix it. Other times, if the bone fractures and a large piece breaks off or deteriorates, your bone may need help healing. This is where a bone graft comes in, as our board-certified oral and maxillofacial surgeon surgically implants a new piece of bone to fortify the existing, insufficient bone. After the graft, those living cells fuse with the bone as it absorbs and heals, giving your bone the strength, density, and shape it needs.
You might need a bone graft if you have lost teeth so that your bone can support a dental implant. This is necessary because your jaw will be anchoring the dental implant securely. Without enough bone material, the post won’t be secure. Regenerating the jaw bone material with a bone graft can solve this issue.
How Bone Is Lost
So, how does your bone density diminish? Time naturally does this as you age, and bone can be lost even more quickly when hastened by health issues such as birth defects, tumors, and sinus problems. Trauma and untreated periodontal disease can also speed up bone density loss. But the most common factor in jaw bone deterioration stems from missing teeth that are not replaced, whether from injury, loss from extensive tooth decay, or simply extraction.
Dental implants are a common remedy to tooth loss, but if there is already bone loss, having a dental implant will allow the dental implant to be successful in replacing the missing teeth. No matter what the cause of your bone loss, bone grafting can succeed in replacing lost bone density.
The material used comes from a bone source with a few options. An Allograft works by taking bone from a deceased human body, while a Xenograft is taken from an animal (like a cow), and an Autograft takes bone material from somewhere in your own body (like your jaw). An Allograft has a high rate of success because the bone material comes from your body, making it biocompatible, while an Alloplast comes from synthetic graft material making it the least common bone grafting option.
When you have your surgery, you will be placed into a comfortable sleep state using general anesthesia or IV sedation and will continually be monitored during the surgery and initial recovery period. Our surgeon will keep your bone graft in place with the help of pins, plates, titanium screws, wires, or cables, and then the area will be sutured closed.
After you have undergone a bone graft, your mouth will need some time to heal. Right after surgery, you will be restricted to consuming a liquid diet and then incorporating soft foods after a few days to assist the healing process.
To facilitate your healing, you will want to follow the preoperative and postoperative instructions our team will provide you with. You will likely notice some minor bleeding and swelling after your surgery and even see a bruising appearing on your facial skin and gum tissue. The good news is, these symptoms will diminish and disappear soon after your bone graft surgery. Full recovery as the bone heals can take from four months up to a year.
Whether you need a bone graft for a sinus lift, ridge expansion, distraction osteogenesis, alveolar ridge preservation, or socket preservation to support a dental implant, a bone graft can successfully help you replace missing teeth in your smile. If you take good care of your smile, the bone graft can last anywhere from 20 to 30 years. If you have been told you need a bone graft, we welcome you to reach out to our team and schedule a consultation. Your smile deserves the best care possible!