If you’re missing one or more teeth, you can choose from among multiple restorative dental solutions. But if you also want the most comprehensive tooth replacement option available, there’s really only one choice that fits the bill: dental implants.
When you opt for dental implants to fill the gaps in your smile, you can rest assured knowing you’re getting the complete package — a dental restoration that provides natural-looking, fully functional results that protect and preserve your long-term oral health.
Before you can receive implants, however, it’s important to ensure you have enough healthy jawbone tissue to support them. If you don’t, a bone grafting treatment can help you rebuild sufficient jawbone mass.
Here at Smiles in Springfield in Springfield, Virginia, our restorative dentist Quang Tran, DDS, provides comprehensive dental implant services, including pre-implant bone grafting. Here’s how it works, and why you may need it.
What is dental bone grafting?
Dental bone grafting is a simple, in-office treatment that addresses insufficient jawbone mass. Specifically, it aims to rebuild jawbone volume and density through the surgical addition of small bone graft granules onto an area where significant bone loss has occurred.
When bone graft material is placed directly onto an area of inadequate bone tissue, it acts as a tissue-stimulating scaffold, prompting your body to actively regenerate bone cells and build denser, stronger jawbone tissue.
There are four basic types of bone graft material:
- Autografts: Tissue taken from your own body
- Allografts: Tissue from a human donor bank
- Xenografts: Tissue from an animal donor bank
- Alloplasts: Synthetic bone graft material
As your natural bone tissue grows and regenerates, it absorbs the graft material and creates a fully integrated area of new bone. The bone regeneration process can take a few weeks or a few months, depending on the extent of the graft and your body’s healing mechanisms.
Why might I need bone grafting before I get dental implants?
If your jawbone isn’t deep enough (insufficient mass), or if it’s too soft (insufficient density), bone grafting is a necessary step before you can receive a dental implant.
A jawbone that’s insufficient in any way can’t provide effective support for implants, mostly because chewing exerts a great amount of pressure on the implant as well as the bone.
While you may be surprised to learn that you need to build up your jawbone before getting implants, bone grafting prior to implant surgery is actually quite common. That’s because the jawbone is particularly vulnerable to losing mass, especially in areas where teeth are missing.
Tooth loss and gum disease (periodontitis) are the two leading causes of low jawbone mass or insufficient density. This is because healthy teeth and gums help maintain adequate bone tissue, while tooth loss and unhealthy gum tissue cause the supporting bone tissue to recede.
People who delay tooth replacement, or those who want to upgrade from dentures to a more stable restoration, often require bone grafting before they can receive implants.
What can I expect from my bone graft procedure?
Dental bone grafting is a painless, minimally invasive, procedure that’s done in the office with the aid of a local anesthetic. Once the area is sufficiently numb, Dr. Tran makes a small incision in your gum tissue to expose the underlying bone.
Next, he secures the bone graft material to the problematic area of bone and covers it with a protective membrane. The graft contains proteins and collagen to help stimulate active bone growth. Finally, he repositions the gum tissue and closes the incision with sutures.
Depending on the original condition of your bone and the extent of the graft, it can take a few short weeks — or several months — for your bone to heal and build up enough new tissue to support implants.
If you’re in good general health and you require only a small increase in bone mass, Dr. Tran may be able to perform a minor bone graft at the same time as the implant surgery itself.
If you have questions about bone grafting, we have answers. Call 703-634-4239 to schedule a visit with Dr. Tran in our Springfield, Virginia, office today.