Bone Grafting is Not Nearly as Scary as It Sounds
The term "bone grafting" may conjure up horrifying images if you're hearing it for the first time, but it's actually a common and relatively painless procedure. Due to ever advancing technology, a bone graft is not always needed to hold a dental implant, but is still occasionally used to strengthen the jaw. When a graft is needed, the procedure is not nearly as complicated as it used to be, and doesn't require hospitalization. Let's take a look at what bone grafting surgery entails.
The History of the Bone Graft
Originally, in the 70s, the only way to replace teeth was with a set of dentures. The dentures required a stable, strong jaw to hold them in place, and would often call for a bone graft. As people lose their teeth to age or other factors, the jawbone begins to atrophy from not being used. The bone of the jaw wears down and becomes narrow and unable to support new teeth. Early on, bone grafts would often require the patient to be hospitalized so that new bone could be harvested from their existing healthy bones, usually taken from the ribs.
Modern Bone Grafting Procedures
Bone grafting has come a long way. Nowadays, the procedure is minimally invasive and can be done in the dentist's office instead of a hospital setting. The bone is harvested from processed materials from animal bone. This is called a xenograft. After the bone is grafted, the body is "tricked" into thinking it's natural bone, and over time will build more bone around it. There are three different ways of performing a bone graft:
Socket Graft - This graft is used when a single tooth has been extracted. The graft acts as placeholder for the missing tooth, and allows new bone to form over time, which will eventually house the dental implant.
Block Bone Graft - This type of graft is used when there is more substantial damage to the jaw bone to the point where soft tissue cannot be supported. It may be needed for cases of dental trauma or bone destruction due to tumors or cysts. It requires some natural bone to be removed from the patient, in combination with the artificial harvested bone. Bone removed from the patient will most likely be taken from the area where wisdom teeth once were. The harvested bone is grafted using screws, and after several months of regeneration will be ready for an implant.
Sinus Lift - This graft is used when an implant is needed in the upper jaw, but cannot be placed because of sinus intrusion. When an upper molar is absent, the sinuses tend to "droop" and fill in the hollow area of the jawbone. The harvested animal bone is used to move the sinuses back up into the sinus cavity, hold them there, and create a "scaffold" which the dental implant will hold on to.
To learn more about bone grafting and if it right for you, contact us at Solace Oral Surgery in Nashville.