I’m facing bone grafting, and I think it sounds like a terrible ordeal to go through. I have three missing teeth on the lower left side of my mouth, and my dentist wants to to do a bone graft before he places dental implants. I had a bridge there for a lot of years, but it finally broke, and after what I learned about implants, I decided to go that way.
My dentist said I lost bone from my jaw while I had the bridge there and that bone grafting will make that part of my jawbone strong enough to support the implants. But bone grafting just seems like it would be too much for me. My wife laughs at me because I’m so afraid, and I think I could handle the implant surgery, just not the bone grafting part.
John in Georgia
It can be scary to approach a procedure when it sounds strange and unfamiliar. Once you understand more about bone grafting, you’ll probably feel as comfortable with the procedure as you seem to feel with the surgery to place the dental implants.
Let’s start by talking about what a bone graft is, and then we can explore some facts that could make it even easier for you to face. It’s true that we lose bone density when we lose a tooth. Without the tooth root there to signal the body that the the jawbone is needed to support that particular tooth, the body absorbs, or resorbs, as the process is called, the minerals for use elsewhere in the body. So it’s no surprise that you have had some bone loss if you’ve been without those three teeth for many years. The good news it that with bone grafting and dental implants, your bone loss will not grow worse over the years.
The bone used in the grafting procedure can sometimes be taken from your own jaw, and it can also be obtained from a tissue bank, but the most important point to remember is that the grafting materials that are used these days a safe and effective.
The procedure, as rough as it may sound, is minimally invasive. That’s because advanced technology enables something called guided tissue regeneration. This happens because your body recognizes the grafting material as natural bone, and during the healing process, it will bring more bone-building minerals to the site and actually replace the graft with your own bone materials.
And finally, you may not have heard about sedation dentistry. Something as simple as nitrous oxide works to help many patients relax and experience less stress, but if you are really fearful, a good sedation dentist can make sure that you don’t remember your procedure. With the right kind of sedation, you can be aware enough to respond to requests during treatment, but the whole process can be forgotten.
This log is brought to you by David Pumphrey of Pumphrey Periodontics in Atlanta.