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.
That said, if your jawbone is too soft or thin to support a dental implant, you may need a bone grafting procedure to help strengthen your jawbone and preserve your oral health. A bone graft might also be needed to regenerate bone loss due to severe gum disease to prevent teeth from loosening or falling out.
The Dental Implant Procedure
Dentists typically perform the dental implant procedure in stages, with the first stage being the extraction of the damaged tooth before 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.
A titanium rod is placed beneath the gum tissue into the jawbone for the dental implant before the gum tissue is stitched back into place. The implant will then begin to bond with the bone, a process known as osseointegration. The implant is attached to the gum tissue as the area heals.
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 from your own body (autogenous), from a human tissue bank (allograft), or an animal tissue bank (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 abutment (a metal extension of the implant's metal post) is then inserted into the jaw. After another healing period, 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.