Dental Implants & Bone Grafts
If you are usually healthy and have lost a tooth due to trauma, infection, periodontal disease, or something else, your dentist might suggest getting a dental implant to replace the missing tooth.
This artificial tooth root will be surgically placed in your jawbone so a tooth replacement such as a crown or bridge can be attached. Following this procedure, your implant will have a similar feel and appearance to your natural teeth.
However, if your jawbone is too soft or thin to support a dental implant, you might require a bone grafting procedure to help make your jaw bone stronger and protect your oral health. A bone graft might also be required to regenerate bone loss due to severe gum disease to prevent teeth from loosening or falling out.
Your Dental Implant Procedure
Dentists usually conduct the dental implant procedure in stages, the first of which is extracting the damaged tooth before getting the jawbone ready for surgery. If you need a bone graft, the dentist will add tissue to your jawbone to make it stronger, and restore areas where the bone has deteriorated. A bone graft could also restore proper contour to the facial area.
For the dental implant, a titanium rod is placed underneath gum tissue into the jawbone, before the gum tissue is stitched back into place. The implant will then start to bond to the bone during a process referred to as osseointegration. As the area heals, the implant attaches to the gum tissue.
During another appointment, the dentist will attach the abutment to the rod, before using a tooth replacement to cap the abutment, leaving you with a functional, natural-looking tooth.
What is Bone Grafting?
Bone graft material can be taken from your own body (autogenous), purchased from a human tissue bank (allograft), or an animal tissue bank (xenograft). Sometimes, synthetic material is used (alloplast). The material is then transplanted to the jawbone.
It might take a few months after your bone grafting procedure for the transplanted bone to generate enough new bone to support the placement of a dental implant.
When the jawbone has healed, your dentist can place the implant surgically into the jawbone. This stage may also require several months to heal.
The next step is to place the abutment (an extension of the implant's metal post) into the jaw. After another period to allow the soft tissue to heal, the dentist will take molds or impressions of the teeth and jawbone before inserting the tooth replacement.
Obtain a Healthier Smile
While it may take a while to complete bone grafting and dental implant procedures, the end result could leave you with healthier teeth and help protect your oral and overall health from the consequences of bone deterioration and missing teeth.