Bone Grafts

Introduction to Dental Bone Grafts

When one or more teeth are extracted, a socket (space) remains where the tooth used to be. We used to let the body fill-in the healing socket on its own, but over time, the bone around the space starts shrinking.  After all, the only reason you really have jawbone, is to hold your teeth.  No teeth?  Then there’s no need for the bone, and your body lets it waste away.  In the past, if a patient had a
loose tooth or a tooth that needed to be extracted, we may have kept the tooth for as long as the patient was comfortable, and then extracted the tooth and fabricated a dental bridge or a removable denture to replace the missing tooth.

What is a bone graft, and why would I need one?

Dental implants are becoming increasingly popular and available.  From single implants and crowns, to implant-supported bridges, implant overdentures, to All-on-4 or All-on-6 Implant Dentures, implants are a great way to replace teeth.  Because  adequate bone is crucial to support implants, it’s important to preserve as much bone as possible. The success of dental implants depends in part on the amount of bone available to hold the implant.  That’s why we want to preserve as much bone as possible when we take out a tooth.

A bone graft is a section of material that is placed in the empty tooth socket at the time of extraction – with the goal of making sure that enough bone is available for placement of a dental implant. If you are planning to have a dental implant placed now, or if you are considering having a dental implant placed where you had the tooth out in the future, it’s important to consider having a bone graft. The reason you should consider the graft at the time of extraction is because once the socket completely heals on its own, it is much more difficult to get a successful graft in place.  It can be done – it’s just harder.

Can I have a bone graft later on – after my extraction?

Yes. Grafting can be done in many clinical situations, but the most successful, and the easiest, grafts are done at the time of extraction.  If you wait, bone will shrink, and it’s always harder to rebuild bone, than to preserve it.

What Kind of Bone Grafts are There?

  • Socket Preservation
  • Sinus Lift (upper jaws only)
  • Ridge Augmentation
  • Ridge Splits and Grafting
  • Block Grafts

What is a Sinus Lift?

When your upper premolars and molars are removed, the bone starts shrinking form 2 directions: above (the sinus) and below. Eventually, there might not be enough bone to put implants into. That’s when we do a special procedure called a sinus lift, which adds bone between the upper jaw bone and the thin membrane lining the sinus. The extra bone is added in order to stabilize the bone you have and add to it. To do this, the soft lining membrane of the sinus is gently lifted,making a space for bone graft material to go. Once in, the lifted tissue is closed with stitches and allowed to heal. We usually wait 4-6 months for this bone to heal, before placing the implants.  Sometimes we can do the sinus lift and place the implants at the same time. A 3D x-ray is used to decide on the best way for you.

Why is a Sinus Lift Important to Me?

The replacement of broken or missing teeth is common, and dental implants are a secure and comfortable way to do this. They are becoming more popular because of how effective they truly are, and not only are people gaining real function of their teeth back, they’re gaining their confidence back. None of this is possible, however, if you don’t have the bone to support it. That’s where the sinus lift comes in.

The benefits to you are immeasurable when it comes to physically being able to chew food with no issues, smiling without feeling so self-conscious, and the overall health of your mouth. What we offer is peace of mind and we want you to have that. The only question you have to ask yourself is what it’s worth to you. If this sounds like something you may be interested in, give us a call and let’s how we can help!

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