What Is Bone Grafting and When Is It Needed?

bone grafting model

Some dental procedures may seem risky and frightening due to the lack of familiarity or understanding about them — when, in fact, they are easy, safe, and routine procedures for the professionals performing them. Bone grafting is one such procedure.

What Is Bone Grafting?

Bone grafting is a type of surgery. It involves transplanting bone from one part of your body to repair the existing bone, promote new bone growth, and rebuild the damaged bone, typically in your jaw.

Natural bone continues to grow. As it grows, the bone grafted or transplanted into the new location will get absorbed. This results in a fully integrated region composed of old and new bone and a stronger jaw bone that can withstand other dental procedures, such as implants.

When Is Bone Grafting Needed?

Oral surgeons often perform bone grafting as part of or in preparation for another dental procedure. Many people first undergo dental bone grafting to ensure they have a strong, full jaw bone to serve as the base for the dental implants or dentures they will be getting.

Dental professionals recommend a dental bone graft for the following reasons:

  • Socket preservation, or to fill the space made by a missing tooth and prevent the tooth socket from collapsing or caving in
  • Ridge augmentation, or to increase the width and volume of the jawbone ridge
  • Sinus lift, or to prevent the sinuses from dropping in the case of missing upper back teeth
  • Jaw bone loss, a common complication due to periodontal disease and osteoporosis

Preparing for a Dental Bone Graft

Dental bone grafts are only performed after a thorough examination of your oral and jaw bone health. You will likely need to undergo a few dental imaging scans, such as X-rays. This is done to determine the extent of the bone loss and to decide how much bone grafting is necessary.

Your oral surgeon will also discuss available treatment options and plan with you. This generally includes deciding on the bone grafting material that will best suit your needs.

What To Expect in a Dental Bone Graft Procedure

The exact steps of a bone grafting procedure will depend on the type of treatment, graft material, or purpose of the procedure. In general, though, you can expect the following:

  • Anesthesia. Dental bone grafts usually only require a local anesthetic. However, your oral surgeon may use IV sedation if you have dental anxiety or in the case of autograft extractions.
  • Extraction. After administering anesthesia, the surgeon may start on extracting the tooth that needs to be removed or the bone material to be used for the grafting.
  • Graft insertion. After extracting autograft bone material, the oral surgeon will make the incision on your gum tissue to expose the bone and start to attach the grafted bone material. In the case of non-autograft procedures, this will be the first step after the anesthesia.
  • Suturing. Once the bone graft is secure, the area will then be closed using stitches, pins, plates, wires, cables, or titanium screws.

Recovering From a Dental Bone Graft

When recovering from a dental bone graft procedure, you can expect some degree of pain, swelling, and bruising — as is common from any surgery. These side effects will subside in a few days and can be mitigated with the help of pain relievers.

Full recovery can take around four to six months, though it may sometimes be longer depending on your gum health and other factors.

Who Needs Dental Bone Grafts?

If you need dental implants or dentures, you may be a candidate for getting dental bone grafts as well. In general, around half of all dental implant placement procedures require bone grafting beforehand.

Individuals who have had severe gum or periodontal disease and have experienced bone loss as a result are also prime candidates for a dental bone graft.

You may also need dental bone grafts if you have missing teeth, need a tooth extraction, have jaw trauma, or have genetic or developmental abnormalities, particularly ones that affect your teeth or jaw.

Achieve Good Jaw Bone Health for a Bright Smile

Dental bone grafts are easy, simple, and routine procedures. An experienced and highly trained oral surgeon can help you achieve good jaw bone health and a healthy bone structure that can fully support your dental implants or dentures.

If you find yourself in need of a bone graft, contact Green Valley Oral Surgery right away. Our expert professionals will restore not only your jaw bone’s functionality but also your beautiful smile. We also offer services for wisdom teeth, tooth extractions, oral pathology, and more! Contact Green Valley Oral Surgery at (707) 314-3282 today.