Many people do not think about their bones when considering dental health, but the reality is that you need a lot of healthy bone tissue to maintain your smile. A strong jaw bone supports teeth and provides the force needed to talk, smile, and eat. Unfortunately, gum disease and other infections can damage the bones enough to cause major problems. If you are in this situation, bone grafting with oral surgery can be an excellent way to restore lost tissue.
What Is Bone Grafting?
Oral surgeons recommend this medical procedure for use in a variety of situations. It usually involves taking a small amount of bone from another part of your body or using donor bone tissue from cadavers. However, there are some types of grafts that use synthetic grafting materials instead. Once the graft is ready, the surgeon mounts it in the area that is missing bone. If the graft is a piece of live bone, the body will use this small piece of bone to grow new bone tissue. The bone pieces surrounding the graft will also grow to mesh with the graft and further reinforce the area. In dental procedures, surgeons primarily use grafting on the jawbone. However, in some cases, other parts of the skull may benefit from grafting to reinforce the upper teeth and jaw area.
How to Tell if You Need Bone Grafting
Generally, Lovett Dental’s oral surgeons only recommend bone grafting procedures when you have some sort of degradation to the bone surrounding your jaw. There are all sorts of reasons for patients to be missing part of the jaw bone, including infection, severe gum disease, and injury. Any damage to the jaw bone can cause tooth loss and result in a lot of discomfort and difficulty. Signs you might need a bone graft include:
- Loose or missing teeth
- Bleeding and swollen gums
- Constant bad breath
- Persistent mouth and jaw pain
- Changes to your bite or jaw angle
If you have loose teeth, adding bone with a graft can help to stabilize the area. For those with missing teeth, the goal of a bone graft is to be able to rebuild the jaw and implant teeth in the regrown bone. Once the graft has grown enough to provide a sturdy surface, the dentist can mount your dental implant to replace lost teeth. It can take a few procedures, but eventually, you can end up with a smile that looks and functions just like one with natural teeth.
What to Expect During Bone Grafting
Oral surgery is often mild enough that patients can undergo it with just local anesthesia if desired, but Lovett Dental also lets you elect to use IV sedation dentistry or general anesthesia if you would prefer to be unconscious during the procedure. If you decide that a bone grafting procedure is right for you, your dentist will assess your condition and decide on the right type of graft. For those who will do best with a graft taken from their own bone, you will start with a surgery to remove the bone from your hip or another donor site.
Patients who are using artificial or donor’s bone will skip this step. The next part of the procedure will be to remove any diseased teeth, bone, or gum tissue in the area for the graft. Your surgeon will then secure the graft into place, possibly covering it with a membrane to encourage growth, and then suture the gum into place over the incision. If you are getting an implant, you will then need to wait a few months for the area to heal before proceeding.
If you think bone grafting procedures might be right for you, your dentist can help you decide. At Lovett Dental, we have highly experienced oral surgeons who can evaluate your condition and suggest the ideal treatment. In addition to our services involving oral surgery, we can also help with common dental matters such as:
- Dental cleanings
- Root canals
- Composite tooth fillings
- Scaling and root planing
- Fluoride treatments
- Crowns and bridges