Will I Need a Bone Graft for a Dental Implant?

Will I Need a Bone Graft for a Dental Implant?

Experts estimate that about half of all dental implant procedures in the United States require a bone graft. This means that if you’re considering an implant to replace a missing tooth or teeth, there’s a one in two chance you’ll need to have a bone graft first. 

At American Dental ClinicDr. Emmanuel Aguilar performs dental implants regularly. He sees numerous patients who require bone grafts before the implant can be successful. Many of those patients are worried about having a bone graft, but in fact, it’s a common and effective surgery that usually results in a successful implant and restored function. 

In this post we discuss why a bone graft might be necessary, as well as what you should expect if Dr. Aguilar suggest the procedure for you. 

You don’t just lose a tooth

You might think the main problem with a missing tooth is cosmetic, but in fact, it’s a much bigger problem. Regardless of the reason you lost your tooth, whether it was due to trauma, gum disease, decay, or an extraction, the loss has implications below your gum line. 

Your tooth consists of the portion you can see, and also the roots that extend below your gums. Your tooth roots are anchored in your jaw bone, and that bone is living tissue. 

In a healthy tooth, each time you bite down, the root stimulates the jawbone. That stimulation increases the circulation of blood, which brings nutrients to the bone, so that it can repair and grow as necessary. This keeps your tooth stable. When you no longer have those roots, you can experience bone loss. 

Additionally, if you lost your tooth or teeth because of gum disease, the bacterial infection can have a profound, negative impact on the health of your jawbone. Similarly, if you tooth or teeth were lost in a traumatic event, it’s possible that you lost some of the supporting bones at the same time. 

How a bone graft helps

When you come in for an evaluation and we discuss an implant, we use advanced imaging to determine whether or not your bone is strong enough to support the implant. The reason dental implants are the gold standard form of tooth replacement is that it behaves like a natural tooth root. 

The implant is a titanium post that fuses with your jawbone. Once that is healed, we place a prosthetic tooth on top of it.

If your bone isn’t strong enough to fuse with the implant, we can strengthen it with a bone graft. 

How it works

In most cases we harvest a bit of bone from somewhere else in your body, often from your mouth when we do drilling. In other cases, we use bone from a bone bank, so that we know it’s safe.

Grafting is a fairly simple procedure. Dr. Aguilar makes a small incision and places the grafting material in it. Then he stitches up the incision. You may find the next portion of the process to be the hardest: you wait for it to heal. The new bone integrates with your existing bone and becomes strong enough to support the implant. 

Once the whole process is complete, though, you’ll have full functionality of your tooth again. Your jawbone will be healthier, and you’ll be able to chew, speak, and smile normally! 

If you’d like to learn more about dental implants or bone grafting, schedule an appointment at American Dental Clinic today! 

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