If you want to receive one or more dental implants then it is a prerequisite that your jaw has enough quality bone material around the implant site. Without this, it will not be possible to securely fit a dental implant into your jaw. In this case, you may need to receive a dental bone graft to increase the amount of operational bone present in your jaw before receiving your implants.
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Why might I need a bone graft?
There are many reasons why you might need a bone graft to support dental implants. Some of these reasons may be a result of your dental history, others may be hereditary conditions.
For example, if you have previously had a tooth removed then it is likely that you will have lost some of the bone content around the socket where that tooth once was. This is completely normal and nothing to worry about as it happens to everyone unless the socket is specifically preserved.
Other reasons could be because of your own specific genetics. Everyone has slightly different positioning of their sinuses in relation to the jaw around it and some people may need a bone graft to increase the bone density of their upper jaw as a result.
Finally, any other previous dental conditions or injuries could have resulted in damage to the bone quality in your jaw and therefore necessitate a bone graft to be able to support dental implants.
Bone graft eligibility
In order to be eligible for a dental bone graft you must have otherwise good oral health but with less than 2mm of available bone surrounding the planned dental implant location.
This lack of bone would make it impossible for a dental implant to be securely fitted and bond with the jaw bone.
Your dentist will be able to perform an x-ray and examine the results to come up with your ideal treatment plan and what type of bone graft will be best for you.
Following your bone graft procedure, your bone must be fully healed and regenerated in order to be eligible for dental implants. This means that there must be sufficient blood flow to the treated area, there must be no stress on the soft tissue, and osteoblasts (cells that secrete bone) must be present.
Types of bone graft
There are a variety of dental bone graft procedures that can be performed to give you the best results.
Autogenous bone grafts, also known as autografts, involve the transplantation of bone from areas of your body such as your mouth or your hip to be used for your bone graft. Because this bone comes from your own body, it has the highest chance of being accepted by your body without complications.
Allogeneic bone grafts involve donor bone from a person other than yourself. Bovine bone may also be used in xenografts. If this is the case, the bone is thoroughly cleaned and deproteinised to make it compatible for your body.
Finally, there are also bone grafts that use artificial/synthetic bone rather than organic bone material. Your dentist will be able to talk you through all available options so that you can decide on a solution that works for you and your dental health.
Bone graft aftercare
Good aftercare is vital for dental implants regardless of if you had a bone graft, but if you did need a bone graft before your dental implant then the correct aftercare is even more important.
Your dentist will provide you with detailed aftercare advice that you must follow for your bone graft to be a success.
This will include:
Rest from physical activity for a few days following your treatment
Regularly rinsing your mouth with our solution provided or advised by your dentist
Not smoking for at least 21 days after treatment
Eating soft foods and drinking plenty of fluids (not from a straw). Your dentist will give you a specific plan to when you can return to solid foods
Very gentle brushing to the teeth around your treated area, do not brush or floss the treated area.