You have an important consultation coming up. You are going to talk to your dentist about getting dental implants, and you want to be prepared for this appointment. After doing plenty of research, you feel confident in your knowledge of the implant process, but then you run into several mentions of bone grafts. Do you really need to know about this?
Although bone grafts aren’t required for each patient, it’s important for you to be aware of this preliminary procedure and how it can impact your dental implants. Read on to learn more about bone grafts and how you could possibly benefit from one.
What Is a Bone Graft?
A bone graft is a procedure where a dentist surgically places either a real or prosthetic piece of bone tissue into the jawbone. In the months that follow, the jawbone regains its strength and density by accepting and fusing to the graft. As a result, the jawbone is better able to receive and support dental implants.
When Is a Bone Graft Needed?
Although the circumstances may be different from patient to patient, ultimately, a graft becomes necessary if the patient lacks sufficient jawbone tissue to support dental implants. This can be the result of severe gum disease, dental trauma, medical conditions like osteoporosis, years of missing teeth, wearing traditional dentures or bridges, and more. Without enough jawbone, the implants will fail to become properly integrated.
How Long Does the Grafting Process Take?
The procedure itself can vary in length depending on the extent of the graft and how many implants you plan on getting later on. After the graft, it can take anywhere between three months and a year for the graft to fully fuse to the bone and be ready for implants.
How Do You Know If You Need a Bone Graft?
Not every implant patient needs to get a bone graft prior to the placement procedure. Unfortunately, you cannot judge whether a bone graft is necessary with the naked eye. Your dentist must take digital X-rays of your mouth to get a clearer sense of your jawbone density. Keep in mind that even patients who have only recently lost a tooth may still require a bone graft. It just depends on the jawbone density and if your dentist believes your chances of success could be significantly raised with a bone graft.
In the end, when you talk to your dentist about implants, you need to remember that a bone graft could be very beneficial. This preliminary procedure can help set you up for successful implants and a stronger smile for decades to come.
About the Author
Dr. Gary Hutnik has more than 30 years of clinical experience in dentistry. In fact, he served as a clinical instructor at the University of Michigan School of Dentistry and is an active member of the American Dental Association, the Michigan Dental Association, and the Academy of General Dentistry. If you would like to discuss implants and bone grafts with Dr. Hutnik, you can schedule a consultation with him at Lansing Elite Dental through his website or by calling 517-886-9696.