A bone graft might be necessary if your jawbone is too weak to accept a dental implant or support dentures. Bone grafting is a technique usually used to provide a good structure for teeth. Once you lose teeth, the bone recedes as it no longer has to support your tooth or teeth. If you have an implant made shortly after this happens, your jawbone may be intact. However, if you lost teeth years ago, your jaw bone can recede to the point where dentures no longer fit and where adding dental implants would be impossible without building up the bone first.
What Type of Bone Graft will your Oral Surgeon Use?
Depending on your circumstances, your oral surgeon may perform one of three levels of grafting:
- In the simplest case, the dentist will perform a tooth extraction and then immediately pack demineralized sterile human bone granules into the tooth socket. He then covers the sand-like material with collagen and stitches up the wound. Within a few weeks, the material spurs your own bone growth so that you can proceed with the dental implant.
- For more serious bone loss, the oral surgeon will make a small incision in the jawbone where the tooth previously was and build up the area with bone granules, some of your own bone shaved from near the wisdom tooth area, and collagen. This type of graft takes several months to heal and integrate with your own bone to make the jawbone wider and higher; but if it takes correctly, it will support implanted replacement teeth.
- For even more extensive bone loss where the bone has receded extensively, your oral surgeon will insert a block of bone from the jaw, hip, or tibia, along with sterile bone and collagen into order to strengthen the jaw. Once the jaw has healed after several months, the dentist will install the implants.
Sinus Lifts for the Upper Jaw
If you have teeth missing on the upper jaw, your bone jaw may affect your maxillary sinuses, a hollow cavity that sits above the upper molars. The sinus starts to dip lower, and as the jawbone deteriorates, the bone between the sinus and gum thins out, too. In order to add implants or even good-fitting dentures, the oral surgeon must do a sinus lift, a bone graft to raise the floor of the sinus. He also increases depth and width by packing sterile human bone and a collagen membrane into the hollow area. The process takes about four months to heal before implants can be inserted.
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