Bone grafting is a procedure used to restore or rebuild bone mass in the jaw. Over time, existing bone can begin to resorb or disappear in areas where there are missing teeth or gum disease (periodontitis, inflammation of the gums). Using a bone graft helps stimulate new bone growth as well as adds strength to the area in order to prepare for other procedures such as dental implants. At Lighthouse Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, Houston residents can get all of their questions about bone grafting answered and receive treatment that is as pain-free as possible.
Reasons Bone Grafting May Be Used
There are several reasons why your doctor may recommend undergoing a dental bone graft:
- Preparation for dental implants. There needs to be a strong base to hold implants in place and give them enough bone to fuse with.
- Recovery from gum disease. If left untreated, infection in the gums can cause the bone to deteriorate and become weaker. A bone graft can provide more stability and prevent further bone loss.
- After a tooth extraction. Sockets usually fill in very predictably with bone, but graft material may be used to help preserve the socket and prevent bone loss.
- Gain valuable bone in the posterior upper jaw. Some individuals have very large maxillary sinus cavities with tooth roots protruding into the sinus, while this is advantageous to keep the weight of the head lighter, it possesses a problem in the potential placement of implants. Sinus augmentation with bone grafting can be completed through various techniques but the desired outcome remains consistent, creation of a stable environment for the retention of dental implants (and your teeth).
- Preserve facial structure. As bone mass decreases, it can actually affect the appearance of your face. You may notice your facial features slowly changing as you lose more teeth. Often the vertical height and width of our lower face can change dramatically with the slow loss of teeth and supporting bone. Replacing lost bone can maintain your natural aesthetic.
What to Expect During a Bone Graft
First and foremost, our doctors ensure that you will not feel any discomfort by using sedation during the procedure. You can feel more relaxed about the experience knowing that your comfort is a top priority.
There are four types of bone grafts depending on the source of the material:
- Autograft: Bone from your own body. Typically, it is taken from another area of your mouth.
- Allograft: Bone from a human cadaver is used to replace the volume of bone deficient patients. Our bodies will slowly “chew up” the allograft and replace it with your own new bone, bringing with the bone the appropriate blood supply.
- Xenograft: Bone from an animal donor – usually a cow. This type of bone has distinct advantages, which include its ability to remain in the body for a longer period of time. This allows the body to slowly replace the graft by continuing to provide support for the surrounding tissues.
- Alloplast: Synthetic material that is typically not resorbed by the body. While it does provide wonderful support for the surrounding tissue, the lack of blood flow to the area can create other issues in the future
Once the bone has been harvested, a small incision is made in the gum, and the graft is attached. It is held in place with various techniques until the new bone begins to grow and slowly replace the graft. The procedure length can vary according to the amount of grafting and other work required, all of which can be performed in the oral surgeon’s office.
Many patients find that they experience minimal discomfort during recovery. You will want to start off by eating soft foods until the bone graft matures and mineralizes. Depending on the individual case the amount of time needed for the bone to fully mature can vary from 4 to 8 months.
Strengthen Your Jaw with a Bone Graft
Prevent bone loss and create a stronger foundation for implants with bone grafting at Lighthouse Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery in Houston, Texas.
Contact us to schedule a consultation and learn more about this procedure as you restore your smile. Call us at (713) 790-1995.