Missing teeth can sometimes be replaced with dental implants, and the process requires surgical intervention. Implants can be used even if you are an individual who has jawbone deterioration underneath the gums. However, your oral surgeon may suggest the placement of a bone graft. This may seem like a frightening and painful prospect, but you should know that bone grafts are often routine procedures performed by oral surgeons. If your worries and concerns are still keeping you from investing in your oral health, then keep reading to learn about some bone grafting facts that should reduce your concerns.
Bone Grafts Have Been Completed for a Long Time
Since around 2500 BC, metal materials have been used to stabilize the teeth, and implant-like devices have been dated as far back as 600 AD. The Mayans are attributed with using the first oral implants. However, it took several hundred more years for doctors to invent dental implants that used posts and oseointegration to support fixed artificial teeth. Specifically, implants like the ones you know about today were introduced in the 1940s. The use of titanium and screw devices only date back to 1978. Bone grafting as we know it, can be similarly dated back to the 1970s and 1980s. This means that bone grafting across the jaw has been around for about the same amount of time as dental implants. The technology is not new, and thus oral surgeons are just as familiar with grafting as they are with placing the dental implants themselves.
Not only has bone grafting been around for a while, but surgeons have had over 35 years to perfect the process. At first, bone matter was taken from the ribs of the patient to rebuild the jaw, and this often happened to increase bulk so that a denture could be fitted. Now, bone material does not even need to be taken from the patient. The graft can be created out of bones taken from a cow, and in some cases, lab created bone materials can even be used. This means less stress. Even if bone does need to be taken from your body, only a small sliver is taken from your hip or from another section of your jaw.
Small Incisions are Used
Generally, a bone graft is only secured in the area where the dental implant is going to be placed. In some cases, this means that a small amount of bovine or artificial bone material is needed. Your oral surgeon may be able to place the material at the time of extraction if you have already decided that you want a dental implant in the future. The bone is slipped into the extraction site and it serves as a placeholder so the area does not deteriorate further or fill in with soft gum tissues. This type of procedure actually requires no extra incision or surgery, since the extraction is taking place at the same time. Stitches are needed though, to secure the gums over the bovine tissues. This entire process is called socket grafting.
If you decided that you want to have a dental implant secured several years after a tooth has been extracted or knocked out, or if you want one to hold dentures in place, then block grafts will likely be added to the jaw. Block grafts involve the removal of slivers or sections of bone from your body or from a deceased donor to fill in holes or openings in the jaw. The added bulk will help to secure the implants added to the mouth.
When the grafts are placed, the oral surgeon will make a small incision in the gums after locating the areas where the grafts are needed. Usually, x-rays are used for this purpose. The small sliver or block is slipped into place, and screws help to secure the bone to the jaw. Cow bones and collagen may be set over the top too. Once the incisions are closed, the oral surgeon will watch the graft areas closely to make sure that the graft and jaw connect together with new bone cells formed over the next several months.
Bone grafts for dental implants may sound like a scary procedure, but you really shouldn't worry too much. Experienced dentists know what they are doing and will do their best to minimize any pain you experience. Click here for more information, or contact a local dental clinic.