Friday, June 12, 2015

Bone Grafting is Not Nearly as Scary as It Sounds

                                     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.

What Is an Apicoectomy and How Is It Performed?


                     What Is an Apicoectomy and How Is It Performed?

Though the word may sound unfamiliar, apicoectomy is actually a very common procedure, and if you've had a root canal, you may have had an apicoectomy as well. So what exactly is an apicoectomy, and why is it used?
The Structure of Your Teeth
Common known, teeth are connected to the jawbone by roots. Most teeth have one root, but larger teeth, like molars and premolars, have two or more. The end of each root (otherwise known as the apex) is the canal through which nerves and blood vessels funnel into the pulp of the tooth. If there is an infection of the canal tissue or the pulp, a root canal treatment is needed. Your dentist will use a file to clean the infected tissue from these canals. Due to the complex nature of the canals, with many smaller parts branching off, it isn't uncommon for a small piece of infected tissue to be left behind. Sometimes the remaining infected tissue can prevent healing or cause another infection in the future. This is where the apicoectomy comes in.

Indications for an Apicoectomy
An apicoectomy is done on a microscopic scale, and thus requires an experienced oral surgeon with advanced training. The purpose of the surgery is to remove the tip, or apex, of the root and seal off the canal. This makes it impossible for the infection to travel back through the canal again. The surgery is initiated when the previous root canal has failed, resulting in re-infection, or when your dentist doesn't want to weaken the crown of your tooth with a secondary root canal. Apicoectomies can also be performed to diagnose persistent tooth issues with unknown causes. By examining the entire root of the tooth, your dentist can identify the problem. If you have other damage to the surface of the root or bone surrounding the tooth, your dentist may want to perform the surgery.

How an Apicoectomy Is Performed
The oral surgeon will use a tool to make a tiny incision in your gum. They will then lift your gum up and away from the tooth, and may use a drill to access the root. Using a dental microscope and an ultrasonic light, the surgeon will remove the rest of the infected tissue and clean and seal off the remainder of the root's canal. Afterwards, the gum tissue will be stitched back into place. Anpicoectomies usually only take 30-90 minutes, depending on the complexity of your root canals. Aftercare entails the same procedures as with any oral surgery, being careful not to brush hard, eating soft foods, and taking OTC pain medication.

Contact us for any other questions regarding this at Solace Oral Surgery, 615-320-1392