Periodontitis is a serious type of gum disease, but it doesn't just affect your gums. It also attacks the tissues that support your teeth like your ligaments, and worse, your jawbone. If you have lost jawbone tissue as a result of periodontitis, your dentist may recommend bone grafting. Here are five things you need to know about this treatment.
How does periodontitis damage your jawbone?
A healthy jawbone remodels itself constantly to keep itself strong. Mature bone is removed and resorbed, and at the same time, new bone is added to replace it. Unfortunately, periodontitis can interfere with this normal and necessary process.
Periodontitis leads to chronic inflammation of your gum tissue, and your body sends inflammatory cells like T cells to the area to try to control the inflammation. These inflammatory cells produce a type of protein that interferes with the normal regenerative process of your bones. Your jawbone is still able to remove mature bone, but it's not able to add new bone. Over time, this leads to loss of the bone tissue.
Is jawbone loss serious?
Your jawbone supports your teeth, and if you lose too much of your jawbone, your teeth will lose their support structure. If this happens, your teeth will become loose and may even fall out. Tooth loss isn't the only issue, though. A weakened jawbone is also more likely to break. This is why your dentist will recommend replacing your lost bone tissue through bone grafting.
How do dentists perform bone grafting?
Bone grafting is a simple procedure. It will be performed by a periodontist, a type of dentist that specializes in treating gum disease. The periodontist will first numb your mouth with injections of a local anesthetic. Next, incisions will be made in your gum tissue to allow the periodontist access to your jawbone.
The defects (holes or weak spots) in your jawbone will be filled with bone grafting material. This material may be your own bone tissue, from other parts of your body, or it can be donor bone tissue from cadavers or animals. Synthetic bone tissue can also be used.
Once the grafting material is in place, your periodontist will cover the area with a barrier of skin or synthetic material to hold it in place while it heals. It can take as long as nine months for the bone to heal.
Is bone grafting painful?
You won't feel any pain during your procedure thanks to the local anesthesia, but the recovery period from this surgery is painful. Some people can manage the pain with over-the-counter painkillers, while others will need a prescription for a stronger painkiller from their dentist.
Swelling and bleeding are also normal in the days after the surgery. Your dentist may advise you to apply ice to the side of your face to control the swelling. Bleeding can be controlled with moist gauze pads, and if that doesn't help, emergency dental care may be necessary.
Can periodontitis recur?
After your bone graft procedure, it's very important to pay attention to your oral hygiene routine. If you don't remove plaque and bacteria from your mouth promptly, your periodontitis could come back and you could find yourself right back where you started. To avoid going through all of this again, make sure to brush your teeth twice a day and floss once a day. Your dentist may also prescribe a medicated mouthwash to help control bacteria inside your mouth.
Periodontitis is a serious type of gum disease that can destroy your jawbone as well as your gums. If you've suffered bone loss due to periodontitis, talk to your dentist about bone grafting.