Bone Grafts & Dental Implants
If you are generally healthy and lose a tooth to trauma, infection, periodontal disease or something else, your dentist may recommend a dental implant to replace the lost 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. Once the procedure is complete, your implant will look and feel similar to your natural teeth.
However, if your jawbone is too soft or thin to support a dental implant, a bone grafting procedure may be required to help strengthen your jawbone and preserve your oral health. To prevent teeth from loosening or falling out, a bone graft may be required to regenerate bone loss caused by severe gum disease.
The Dental Implant Procedure
Dentists usually perform the dental implant procedure in stages, beginning with extracting the damaged tooth and preparing the jawbone for surgery. If a bone graft is required, the dentist will add tissue to your jawbone to strengthen it and restore areas where the bone has deteriorated. A bone graft can also help to restore proper facial contour.
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 begin to bond to the bone through a process called 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.
Bone graft material can be obtained either from your own body (autogenous) or from a human tissue bank (allograft) (xenograft). Synthetic materials are used in some cases (alloplast). After that, the material is implanted in the jawbone.
It may take several months after a bone grafting procedure for the transplanted bone to generate enough new bone to support the placement of a dental implant.
Once the jawbone has healed, your dentist can surgically place the implant into the jawbone. This stage may also take up to 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 moulds or impressions of the teeth and jawbone before inserting the tooth replacement.
A Healthier Smile
While bone grafting and dental implant procedures can be time-consuming, they can provide you with healthier teeth and help protect your oral and overall health from the effects of bone deterioration and missing teeth.