Bone Grafts for Dental Implants
I am in my early 40s, and I recently looked into getting a couple dental implants to replace two front teeth I lost when I was just 18. I have always had two removable false teeth that clipped in behind the two adjacent teeth, and it has always bothered me. So I talked to my dentist about getting a more permanent (and hopefully more aesthetic) solution. He told me I would need a bone graft for the dental implants, so now I’m wondering if it is too much trouble. I really want my front teeth to look more natural, but I feel like a bone graft will be too much pain to go through.
Arabella in Atlanta
Many people who explore the possibility of a dental implant or implants end up needing bone grafting, and while it is one more procedure to go through and heal from, it should not deter you from obtaining the smile you want.
Let’s first talk about the reason you probably need bone grafting at this point, then we’ll talk through the procedure, so you understand what it entails and can calm your fears.
Reason for Bone Grafts
If you’ve had false teeth for 22 years or more, it is likely that your jawbone has atrophied and lost density in the area below those teeth. This is because false teeth, dentures, and bridges only replace the crown or visible part of the tooth without addressing the loss of the tooth root.
The body interprets the loss of a tooth with its root to mean that the supporting bone structure is no longer needed. It begins to absorb the bone-building minerals that once supported the tooth for use elsewhere in the body. This leads to situations like yours in which there is not enough bone structure left to support a dental implant. And in the case of the loss of all of the teeth, it can lead to facial collapse.
That’s why dental implants are a very good choice: they replace both the tooth root and the crown. In fact, a dental implant is a replacement root that is implanted directly into your jawbone, and it is strong enough to support a crown. As you can see from the diagram here, the tooth root form needs enough bone material to be stable. Only then can it support the crown.
Bone Grafting Procedure
So now that you know why, let’s talk about how. It’s easy to fear what we don’t really understand, so hopefully, a little more information will go a long way here. To begin with, the tissue used for the bone graft can be found in your own jawbone, and when this is not possible, it can be obtained from a tissue bank.
Because there have been many recent advances in techniques and technology, bone grafting is now a minimally invasive and safe procedure. Your periodontist will place the new tissue after making an incision, and because your body will recognize the graft material as its own bone, and will gradually replace the graft with more bone-building minerals. This way, through guided tissue regeneration, you end up with more of your own natural bone than you had before the graft.
And modern sedation and pain-relief methods will keep the procedure and healing period for both the bone grafting and the implantation of the tooth root form relatively pain-free.
It is a really good idea to explore all these topics with your periodontist or oral surgeon who will perform the procedures. This will help you build more trust and lessen your fear as well. You can look forward to a permanent and beautiful smile.
Good luck in finding the right solution for a healthy and happy dental future.
This Blog is brought to you by Dr. David Pumphrey of Pumphrey Periodontics in Atlanta.