Caring for your teeth by maintaining a proper oral hygiene regimen is key to preserving your smile. That said, accidents can happen. There are many reasons a person might lose a tooth at some point in life. This is true even if you make every attempt to guard against decay and gum disease.
Luckily, losing a tooth doesn’t mean you have to live with a compromised smile. There are plenty of options for replacing missing teeth. Dental implants are particularly effective because they’re durable, realistic-looking, and long-lasting.
About Dental Implants
A dental implant is essentially a small metal rod inserted into a patient’s jawbone. The rod serves a function similar to the root of a tooth. Once the rod fuses with the jaw, the oral surgeon attaches a permanent crown on top of it. The permanent crown is designed to mimic the look and function of the patient’s natural teeth.
This treatment can be very effective at addressing the issue of missing teeth. However, some patients are not immediately considered good candidates for the procedure. For example, they may lack sufficient jawbone strength to support an implant. However, these patients may still be able to get dental implants. An extra step may simply be required: bone grafting.
About Bone Grafting
As the name implies, this step involves taking bone tissue from another source and grafting it onto the jawbone. If you’ve been told you may require a bone graft before you can receive a full dental implant, you probably have some questions about the process.
It’s important to consult with your oral surgeon if you have concerns about the process or want to understand your specific situation. Professionals understand that patients want to learn more about their treatment before moving forward. In the meantime, however, the following information should help you better understand what bone grafting involves.
Bone Grafting Procedures Are Specific to Each Patient
The specifics of bone grafting procedures will vary on a case-by-case basis. That’s because not all patients have the same needs. Some patients will need only a small amount of additional bone tissue, while others may require more substantial amounts. The oral surgeon will carefully assess each patient’s needs to determine how to best move forward.
The process may involve removing bone from another part of the body and applying it to the jawbone. However, there are also other options. These include synthetic bone tissue or bone mineral granules. The option selected will depend on the patient’s unique circumstances.
Patients who only require minor bone grafting can sometimes receive the graft during the same appointment in which they receive the implant. For patients with more substantial needs, a recovery period may follow before the oral surgeon can move on to the next step in the process.
In the event a more substantial procedure is necessary, the oral surgeon will first finish the graft by covering it with a stitched collagen membrane. This provides a support surface as the body generates additional bone tissue (the graft triggers this process) to provide adequate support for the dental implant.
Follow the Oral Surgeon’s Instructions
It’s important to heed the oral surgeon’s advice during the recovery period. For instance, he or she may advise you to avoid brushing or rinsing too hard around the area of the graft for a period of time following surgery. As the surgical site heals, blood clots. Rinsing or brushing too hard can dislodge the clot and prolong the healing time.
The oral surgeon will also use local anesthetic during the procedure to minimize or eliminate any discomfort you would otherwise feel. That said, they may also prescribe pain medication or recommend other ways to alleviate your discomfort in the day or two following the treatment.
Make sure you discuss any questions or concerns with your oral surgeon to ensure you use any prescriptions safely and effectively. Luckily, you can often address post-procedure discomfort with a simple ice pack or cold compress. Cold temperatures reduce inflammation and swelling, which can otherwise cause pain.
As with any oral surgery procedure, it’s also important to get some rest for a few days as you recover. Refrain from engaging in vigorous physical activity until your oral surgeon gives you permission to be active again.
Remember, not all patients need to undergo bone grafting to facilitate dental implant treatment. It’s not uncommon for patients to already have the necessary jawbone strength to support an implant.
However, if you do need a bone graft, you should know that it is a fairly minor procedure. If you have any additional questions or concerns about the process, let your oral surgeon know. He or she will gladly discuss the topic in greater detail.