What Is a Bone Graft in Dentistry and Do I Need It?

Many patients have heard about dental implants, which can replace missing, broken, or loose teeth. Yet, they might be less familiar with a dental bone graft, despite the fact dental implants and a bone graft procedure tend to go hand-in-hand. Continue reading to learn what is a bone graft in dentistry and why you need it.

Do I Need a Dental Bone Graft?

bone graft oral surgery

During a dental implant consultation, a dentist might state you will require a bone graft. While it might sound a little scary, there is no reason to worry. A dental bone graft is a routine, painless procedure. 

A dentist will recommend the procedure if there is an insufficient level of healthy bones in your mouth.

For example, you may need a bone graft if you have:

  • An empty space after teeth were removed
  • Development defects
  • Gum disease
  • A facial injury or trauma

What Can I Expect from a Dental Bone Graft?

So, what is a bone graft? It is a surgical procedure that rebuilds bones by transplanting bone tissue. An oral surgeon will make an incision in the jaw and then insert bone graft materials to replace missing tissues. A dental bone graft is often required if a patient has lost one or more adult teeth or has developed gum disease, as both problems can cause bone loss.

The Different Types of Bone Graft

There are four types of bone graft options to consider:

  • Autografts – the use of bone from a patient’s body, such as the jaw or hip.
  • Allografts – the use of bone from another person.
  • Xenograft – the use of bone from a different species, such as a pig or cow.
  • Alloplast – the use of synthetic material, such as calcium sodium phosphosilicate (bioglass) or calcium phosphate.

The above options will have pros and cons, which you should discuss with your dentist.

Most oral surgeons prefer an autograft, which requires taking bone from a patient’s body, such as from the back of the jaw, hip, or tibia. It can increase support in the jaw, speed up the healing process, and lead to new bone formation.

Do I Need a Bone Graft After a Tooth Extraction?

extraction bone graft oral surgery

Patients who have lost a tooth are common candidates for a bone graft. Even if you had a tooth extraction the day before a dental implant procedure, you may still need a dental bone graft. For instance, it might be necessary if the lost tooth is an incorrect size and cannot support a replacement, or if the socket is infected.

Will Tooth Loss Cause Bone Loss?

Unfortunately, bone loss will happen each day a tooth is missing until you receive a bone graft and dental implant. Missing teeth will make it harder for the alveolar bone to both support and hold your teeth. Loss to this type of bone can lead to atrophy and cause jawbone loss.

It’s for this reason why a dental bone graft is essential. A dental implant will need to bond with a bone to provide a crown with a strong foundation, which is known as osseointegration. If there is no bone, the implant isn’t possible.

Even if you’re not considering implants surgery right now, a bone graft might be a smart option. It can provide extra support to the section of the jaw following tooth loss or gum disease, which can affect your existing natural teeth and gum tissue. A bone graft procedure can prevent additional bone loss and dental issues.

Is a Bone Graft Painful?

It is natural to worry that a bone graft might be painful. However, there is no reason to fear the outpatient procedure, as we here at Biltmore Avenue Family Dentistry perform them every day. Rest assured you will be sedated throughout the process, and you’re unlikely to experience pain as the graft heals. If you do experience any discomfort, this is often easily managed with over-the-counter pain relievers.

However, if necessary, an oral surgeon will provide pain medication to reduce your discomfort. Plus, you will receive antibiotics to prevent an infection. As long as you take antibiotics on schedule and follow the directions, you will not experience much pain.

What is a Bone Graft Recovery Period?

Following a dental bone graft, a gauze is placed around the incision before you leave the dentist’s office. Also, you will receive dental care instructions to follow during the next 24 hours, such as changing the dressing and taking the prescribed antibiotics on schedule.

You may need to eat soft foods for the first few days, avoid hot liquids, and sleep with your head elevated for the first night or two. You will likely need to attend periodic visits to the dentist’s office to review your healing and receive x-rays.

How Soon Can I Receive an Implant After a Bone Graft?

After a dental bone graft procedure, a dentist will need to wait for the graft to fuse with your existing natural bones. As every patient’s mouth is different, there isn’t a specific timeframe for when it will fuse, and you can move onto the next step of inserting the replacement tooth.

What Can I Expect During a Bone Graft Procedure?

After learning what is a bone graft, your next concern will likely turn to the procedure. It is a straightforward process that will allow you to return home the same day.

A typical dental bone graft will follow the below steps:

Step one: Anesthesia is administered before starting the procedure.

Step two: The affected area is cleaned, and an oral surgeon will make an incision into the gum, which will separate it from the bone.

Step three: A surgeon will then add the bone material between two sections of bone.

Step four: A dissolvable adhesive material, membrane, or special screw is used to secure a bone graft.

Step five: A surgeon will sew up the incision, and the healing process will begin.

The above steps reflect a typical dental bone graft. However, there are three types of bone graft procedures, which can each help different issues affecting the jaw.

For example, a dentist might recommend a sinus lift if bone loss has occurred in the upper molars. The procedure will allow the sinuses to move down, and it will restore the stability of the upper jaw.

Alternatively, they might suggest a block bone graft, which requires bone to be taken from the back of the jaw, near your wisdom teeth or from its original location. However, a dentist may recommend a bone graft at the same time as a tooth extraction to prevent unnecessary bone loss, which is known as a socket graft.

So, now you know what a bone graft is and why it’s important. If you would like to arrange a bone graft and dental implant services, don’t hesitate to contact us at Biltmore Avenue Family Dentistry to discuss the procedures.