All About Bone Grafts
There are many options for replacing tooth loss, however sometimes these options require additional procedures ahead of time. This is often true in the case of dental implants, which involves placing a metal cylinder in the patient’s jawbone to create a natural-looking, long-lasting replacement tooth.
However, dental implants require an adequate amount of healthy jawbone to work with. Patients who do not have sufficient bone, but for whom dental implants are the best option, may require bone grafting. A bone graft involves placing healthy bone in place of the damaged bone, thereby creating a strong surface for implants and other procedures.
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Burke Dental is proud to serve the Burke, Virginia area and offer a variety of services. Dr. Ghanavati and the team at Burke Dental want to make sure that our patients get the right oral surgery treatment to suit their needs. If a patient is best served by dental implants but does not have adequate bone in the area, we may recommend bone grafting so that the implants can be placed at a later date.
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Why Consider A Bone Graft
The main reason a patient would consider a bone graft is so that they can undergo other procedures. Many times patients who want dental implants are told that they are not a good candidate because of the condition of their jawbone, but bone grafts may fix that and make dental implants possible. Undergoing a bone graft may sound intensive, but the procedure is relatively straightforward and is sometimes the best choice. There are several reasons a patient might consider getting a bone graft:
- Implants are a long-term solution to tooth loss. Dental implants are long-lasting and require minimum maintenance which makes them a great choice for younger patients with active lives.
- Bone grafts can help improve bite and oral health. Replacing the unhealthy bone can help strengthen the existing bone.
- Bone grafts can help restore jaw shape. Sometimes bone loss changes the shape of a person’s jaw and mouth, and bone grafting can help reshape the jaw and help prevent further changes.
For younger patients who have years ahead of them, bone grafting may be something they want to consider because it opens up the door to longer-term solutions. It is a time-intensive procedure, but one that gives the patient more options and may save them from extra procedures down the road.
Why a Bone Graft May Be Needed
Bone grafts may be recommended if there is inadequate bone, either quantity or quality, to support the requested procedure. There are a few different causes that can lead to bone deterioration and the need for a bone graft, such as:
- Gum disease. Periodontal disease. Patients who suffer from severe gum disease (periodontal disease) may also have deteriorated jaw or jawbone, depending on how long the gum damage was left untreated. As a patient’s gums begin to wear away, their jaw or jawbone can become more susceptible to deterioration.
- Untreated tooth loss. If tooth loss is left untreated, it leaves the bone more prone to loss. When pressure is placed on bone, it allows the body to recognize that the bone is functional and therefore needed. Without a functional tooth, the bone does not receive this pressure and the body may allow the bone to shrink. The longer it takes to replace a missing tooth, the more potential there is for long-term bone loss or damage.
- Age. As people get older bone structure can be lost and the shape of the jaw can change and begin to weaken.
Whatever the cause of the bone deterioration, bone grafting may be the solution. It can restore the function of the jaw or jawbone and make it possible for it to support dental implants or other procedures.
More Information About Bone Grafts
Patients in the Burke, Virginia area who are interested in dental implants and who make an appointment with Burke Dental, will have a consultation appointment with our team. At this appointment, we may take dental x-rays so that Dr. Willis can evaluate whether the patient is a good candidate for dental implants. If the x-rays reveal significant jawbone damage, and the patient recognizes dental implants as the best treatment option, bone grafting may be recommended.
Once the decision has been made to go ahead with a bone graft, another appointment will be booked for the actual bone grafting procedure. On the day of the appointment, the patient will arrive at our office and be given anesthesia to make the appointment more tolerable and to help control the pain. Once the anesthesia has been given time to kick in, Dr. Willis and his team will begin the procedure.
They will begin by removing a small portion of the gum above the area, exposing the bone. The bone graft material will be attached to the existing bone, restoring it to the height and depth needed to sustain a dental implant. Once the bone graft is in place, the tissue will be repositioned into its proper place and held in place with sutures. The bone graft material will then encourage bone growth.
The patient will be given time to recover from the anesthesia. Someone from our team will also give a list of care instructions. This will include what to look for in case of infection and which foods the patient may want to avoid, as well as instructions for oral care. The patient will be instructed to call our office if they experience any signs of post-operative infection.
Bone graft material is placed in an effort to encourage bone growth, a process that depends on mother nature and accordingly requires significant recovery time. While leaving our office, a patient will be encouraged to take it easy for a couple days. It often takes patients between 7 and 10 days before they begin to feel like their normal selves and for the swelling and discomfort to disappear. It takes roughly 10 to 14 days for the sutures to dissolve. Once the swelling has gone down and the sutures are out, a patient can resume their normal activities.
While the external healing takes a short period of time, the internal healing will take a bit longer. The new bone needs time to grow and integrate with the existing bone. This process can take several months. At the time of the original grafting, the patient will be given a follow-up appointment for three to five months later, at which point the staff at Burke Dental will administer dental x-rays and check on the status of the bone graft. Once it has been determined that the bone has sufficiently healed, another appointment will be scheduled to go ahead with the originally-requested procedure.
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A bone graft may sound intimidating, but it is a procedure that can lead to improved quality of life. Tooth loss can impact a patient’s day-to-day life, as well as their self-confidence. Dental implants are one of the best ways to repair tooth loss and a bone graft may be needed for that to happen. The long-term rewards make the short-term discomfort worth it.
Patients in the Burke, Virginia area who are suffering from tooth loss need to know that they don’t have to suffer anymore. They can make an appointment with the team at Burke Dental to discuss solutions to their missing teeth. Perhaps that solution will involve the need for bone grafting, but perhaps it won’t, and the only way to find out is to make an appointment and have an evaluation and consultation. Appointments can be booked online or by calling our office at 703-978-6000.
We are located at 9006 Fern Park Drive Ste A, Burke, VA 22015