Dental implants have helped many patients restore lost teeth through the natural support of their jaw and gums. With an implant procedure, patients can eat, speak, and smile again in comfort and confidence, while knowing their dental health has been preserved. Unfortunately, not everyone may be an immediate candidate for implants. A strong, healthy jaw must be able to support them, making it a predominant factor in one’s candidacy.
If you lack the proper jaw structure for implants, a bone graft may be able to aptly prepare you for an implant procedure. With the help of the skilled and trusted dentist of our Fort Worth practice, Dr. Steve Brown, you can take the necessary steps to restoring a full smile.
When Is a Bone Graft Necessary for Implants?
Some patients are able to receive implants as soon as a tooth is lost or extracted, assuming their gums are free of disease and are in good overall health. However, some patients are unable to support implants due to a weakened jaw. This is particularly the case for those who have suffered from years of tooth loss without implants, leading to the gradual loss of bone tissue. For these patients, a bone graft may be necessary to provide an ample base for implants to be installed.
If you decide during or after your first consultation that you would dental implants, Dr. Brown will take CT scan images of your teeth and jaw. This will help him determine whether you are a good candidate and, if so, how the implants can best be installed. In the event your jaw appears to have inadequate bone mass, you may be recommended for a bone graft procedure.
How Does a Bone Graft Work?
If you elect to undergo bone graft surgery, you must first decide on the source of graft tissue. Typically, a patient’s own bone tissue results in the most reliable graft, which can be obtained from the hip, shin, chin, or other regions. Alternatively, an oral surgeon may have access to donor tissue, animal tissue, or synthetic tissue. Once this is decided, the procedure can be scheduled and will proceed as follows:
- General anesthesia or a combination of local anesthesia and sedation will be used prior to surgery.
- An incision will be made in the gum where an implant is to be placed. The gum will then be separated from the underlying bone, to expose the area for grafting.
- The graft tissue will be placed over the existing bone, often held in place with a screw or a special membrane that will eventually dissolve.
- The incision will be sutured over the graft, leaving it to heal naturally with the jaw.
After surgery, you will likely receive antibiotics and pain medication to help ensure a more comfortable and successful recovery.
Bone Graft Osseointegration
After a week or two of recovery, side effects and discomfort from surgery should be largely resolved. Nevertheless, it typically requires between four and 12 months for the jaw to fully heal. Through natural osseointegration, the preexisting bone must fuse with the graft in order to provide adequate support for implants. Most of this process will not interfere with a patient’s daily lifestyle, and will not even be felt after the initial recovery stage. Still, it is a good idea during these months to be extra vigilant in one’s hygiene, and to avoid injuring the jaw through excessive stress or physical trauma.
Are You a Candidate for Dental Implants?
To find out whether you are a good candidate for dental implants, schedule a consultation at our cosmetic dentistry office today. In the event you require a bone graft or additional treatment prior to implant surgery, we will help you receive the right treatment for the most successful implant procedure possible.Contact our office for more information or to set up an appointment.