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The busy holiday season is here, and there are many things to consider as the year comes to a close. If you are in need of a dental implant, this is a great time to consider giving yourself the gift of a dental implant to complete your smile. If you have one or more missing teeth, whether from decay or injury, and don’t want to wear dentures, a dental implant may be the ideal option for you.     

To qualify for dental implants, you need to have good bone structure, and if you currently don’t, a bone graft can be done first to allow you to qualify for dental implants later. It is estimated that half of implant placement procedures require bone grafting to be done first! Bone grafts are common in restorative dentistry since they beef up insufficient bone density in the jaw so it can support a dental implant.    

Poor Jawbone Density   

There are quite a few reasons you might have poor bone density in the jaw:    

  • Effects of aging     
  • Serious trauma or injury  
  • Severe periodontal infection  
  • Rheumatoid arthritis or osteoporosis  
  • Too long of a wait before replacing lost teeth 

Bone grafts can boost jawbone density by taking bone material from another area of your body, for example, and placing it in your jaw. As the bone material is absorbed, regenerating the jaw, it can eventually support the desired dental implant.    

Dental Bone Graft Material    

  • Autografts: Bone tissue taken from areas of your own body, such as the chin, shin or hip. 
  • Allografts: Bone tissue taken from a treated cadaver bone that is free from disease and immune reactions. 
  • Xenografts: Nonliving bone tissue from animals like cows. 
  • Alloplastic: Artificial material created from a naturally occurring bone mineral, hydroxyapatite, to make a synthetic bone graft that is exceptionally hard and compatible with your natural bone. 

Bone Graft Procedure    

First, you’ll meet with our oral surgeon to outline your treatment plan and determine what bone grafting materials will be used for your treatment. Next, your surgery will be scheduled, and you can expect your operation to look like this:    

  • Administering anesthesia: We will make you comfortable with a local anesthetic to numb the area that is receiving the surgery. If needed, you may have IV sedation (which is typically done when we take the bone tissue from your own body or to alleviate your dental anxiety). 
  • Extracting bone tissue: This is done when you are having an autograft. This will also be done if you are having a tooth extracted, as having a bone graft done after your tooth is removed stimulates quicker healing. 
  • Inserting the graft: Unless you need to have a tooth extracted, the next step will be to meticulously clean the graft location and have an incision made in your gums, revealing the bone so we can attach the bone graft material to it.  
  • Suturing: After the graft material is attached, we will close that area, as well as the area our surgeon may have taken bone tissue from your body, by using surgical stitches. 
  • Recuperating: Typically, you will be sent home on the same day to recover, and you will need a ride home because of the sedative effects. For the next two weeks, you will be taking antibiotics to prevent infection. Taking antibiotics as prescribed is crucial. You’ll also be sticking to soft foods and liquids (think smoothies, soups, mashed potatoes, etc.). Follow our instructions for keeping your mouth extra clean to avoid risking complications.
  • Healing: Fully healing can take anywhere from four to six months (or more) before getting your dental implant. To help ensure proper healing, you will need to follow our recovery instructions and care for the surgical site as prescribed.   

Get Ready To Smile!   

Once your healing is complete, you will be ready for the next step: your well-earned dental implant placement. This is an exciting time, as you will soon be able to complete your smile. Giving yourself the gift of an attractive smile can boost your confidence and leave you wanting to smile more!