What Causes Bone Loss?
Has your dentist told you that you do not have enough bone for dental implants? Or are you uncertain if you have enough bone for your dental implants procedure? You may be a patient in need of a bone graft.
Bone loss is most often caused by a number of diseases, including periodontal disease or even an infected or missing tooth. If a tooth has fallen out or been extracted, the bone that was previously supporting that tooth will eventually start to disappear.
Bone loss from a missing tooth or teeth is an important topic for patients seeking information about dental implants. Without an adequate amount of bone present, your surgeon cannot place a dental implant to replace the missing tooth. This bone loss is due to the lack of the periodontal ligament that attaches the tooth to the bone. The periodontal ligament stimulates the surrounding bone to stay in place and healthy under normal circumstances.
What is a Bone Graft?
A surgeon performs a bone graft in one of several ways. The first question you may have is “where do they get the bone?” The bone your surgeon uses for a bone graft can come from another part of your body, such as the jawbone, hip, or rib. The majority of the time, your surgeon will use an allogeneic bone graft, this will eliminate donor site surgery.
With modern advances in biotechnology, there are alternatives to using your own bone or bone from an allogeneic bone graft. In some instances, your surgeon may choose to use a synthetic bone graft that has been biologically enhanced. However, most surgeons still believe that human bone, either your own or donated from an allogenic bone graft, is the best option.
Once the bone graft material is determined, next your surgeon will decide what type of bone graft will be performed. Most of the time, you have two choices, either particulate or block grafting. Despite their complex-sounding names, these procedures are both fairly straightforward. A particulate bone graft is when your surgeon uses a bone grafting material that is ground up into particles. Block grafting, on the other hand, is when your surgeon uses one solid piece of grafting material, or several pieces of larger grafting material, to perform your dental bone graft. Surgeons use these most often for bone loss due to a missing tooth or teeth, whereas particulate grafts are typically used for bone loss due to a disease process, such as periodontal disease or an infected tooth.
Your surgeon will only use particulate grafting material for a larger graft if you have lost a significant amount of bone, and are in need of a tenting procedure. Your surgeon will perform a tenting procedure when you have lost significant bone in both a vertical direction along the axis of the tooth and a horizontal direction, from tongue to cheek. Your surgeon will place a tenting device, usually a membrane or mesh of some sort, to hold the particulate graft into place while your graft heals.
Who Performs a Dental Bone Graft?
Bone grafting procedures are very intricate. A dental specialist, such as an oral and maxillofacial surgeon, is a preferable candidate to perform this procedure. Dental specialists have the most education and training in dental bone grafting. You are likely to get a better result from your bone graft if it is performed by an appropriately trained surgeon.
What is to be Expected During Recovery from a Bone Graft?
Like any other procedure, you can expect swelling and discomfort following your bone graft procedure. This swelling should resolve within about a week. You should follow the post-operative instructions given to you by your surgeon to lessen the impact of your healing symptoms. Many times your surgeon will suggest an anti-inflammatory, such as Ibuprofen, and the use of heating pads or ice packs. Your surgeon will often advise you not to use an ice pack on the first day following surgery, as it prevents blood flow into the area of your dental bone graft. Blood flow into the area is necessary for the area to heal after surgery, as it allows your dental bone graft to set up a new blood system of its own.
You can expect some bleeding following your dental bone grafting procedure. This is completely normal. However, you should not be bleeding profusely. If this happens, you should contact your surgeon’s office immediately. Most often, you will ooze a little bit of blood for the first couple of days following surgery. Remember, a little bit of blood with a lot of spit looks like a lot of blood. Stay calm, and keep an eye on how much you are bleeding.
Your surgeon may also prescribe a mild analgesic to numb the pain. This is done on a case by case basis and is not always necessary. If you have any questions, remember to communicate with your surgeon and surgical team. They are there to set your mind at ease and help you stay informed.
If you have been told that you need a dental bone graft and have additional questions, we are here to help! We want your procedure to be as pleasant as possible. Contact Arkansas Oral & Maxillofacial Surgeons with any questions that you may have.