Due to various reasons, sometimes a tooth extraction is unavoidable. Whether it is due to old age, a car accident, sports accident, tooth decay, gum disease, or infection – there are numerous reasons for removing a tooth.
Thankfully, there are also numerous ways to replace missing teeth. While it may not seem necessary, staying with an empty socket is harmful. To mention a few, a missing tooth can alter the way you speak and chew, cause your face to sag, and at its worst, it can cause your jawbone to deteriorate.
While jawbone deterioration can be caused by other factors such as gum disease, tooth extraction is one of the major causes. After tooth removal, the empty socket lacks proper simulation, leading to bone loss – as much as 25% of its normal width. Gum disease can also leave the jawbone thin and weak.
One of the major effects of less bone mass is that it can disqualify you for particular dental procedures, such as dental implants. If the jawbone is too weak, your dentist may recommend bone grafting.
Bone grafting is a dental procedure that seeks to repair and rebuild the weakened jawbone. In most cases, the dentist recommends bone grafting to support an implant. If you don’t want to go through bone grafting, you can consider other tooth replacement procedures such as dental bridges or dentures.
Before confirming you for the primary procedure, the dentist will perform a thorough examination of your jawbone and surrounding structure. If necessary, they may take x-rays of the jawbone to evaluate how much jawbone repair is required.
If you have an underlying dental condition such as gum disease, your dentist will have to address it first. This may delay the bone grafting treatment. If you’re fit for bone grafting, the dentist will schedule another appointment for the surgical procedure.
A bone grafting procedure is done through surgery, where the dentist cuts in the gum, inserts the bone graft material, and stitches everything up. During the procedure, the dentist will put you under an anesthetic, so you shouldn’t feel any pain.
However, after the procedure, it’s normal to experience minimal pain and swelling due to surgery. To promote faster healing and prevent complications, make sure you follow your dentist’s aftercare instructions to the letter.
Depending on the patient’s oral health and available jawbone, bone grafting can take between 2-6 months or more. Your dentist will schedule follow-up checkups to monitor the progress of the bone. Once it has healed, you’ll be ready for other dental procedures, such as dental implants.
You have four primary options when it comes to choosing a bone grafting material. Your dentist may choose any of the following materials:
Autograft – This grafting material is obtained from a patient’s bone. In most cases, it can be removed from the hip bone or at the back part of the jawbone, upper shin bone, rib, or lower leg.
Allograft – This graft material is obtained from a human donor. The donor doesn’t have to be related to the patient. They could be dead or living.
Alloplast – These bone grafting materials are human-made. The synthetic material used to make the grafting material include calcium sulfate, surgical-grade resins, hydroxyapatite, and calcium phosphate.
Xenograft – These grafting materials are obtained from an animal. In most cases, it’s recommended if a human donor isn’t available. The animal material is tested and screened to ensure that it’s safe for the patient.
Depending on the available jawbone, your dentist may recommend any of the following procedures.
Socket Bone Graft – Also known as an alveolar ridge preservation graft, socket bone grafting is recommended if the patient only has one missing tooth and requires minor bone repair.
Block Bone Graft – Block bone grafting is recommended if a patient is missing several teeth and has significant jawbone loss.
Sinus Bone Graft – This type of graft is also called sinus lift graft, sinus lift procedure, or subantral graft. It’s used where a significant amount of jawbone has deteriorated. Compared to other grafts, sinus bone lifting takes longer to heal, approximately 6 – 9 months.
Are you looking for bone grafting services? Contact Westwood Dental Group, formerly the Office of Donald J. McLellan, to book your appointment today.