Bone Grafting In-Depth
Tooth Loss and Bone Loss
Tooth loss impacts every aspect of your life. It makes things like eating and speaking more difficult. It affects the quality of your smile and can cause a significant decrease in confidence. In addition to all of these effects, tooth loss also impacts the health of your jawbone.
Your teeth, specifically the roots, stimulate the jawbone every time you chew. This stimulation sends a message to the rest of your body that causes the body to send the nutrients essential for the health and strength of your jaw and the surrounding areas. When you lose teeth, even if you only lose one or two, the amount of stimulation your jawbone receives is decreased. This then tells your body that fewer nutrients are needed. Over time, the areas of the jaw affected by tooth loss begin to weaken. The bone resorbs and begins to change shape. As the bone changes shape, your healthy teeth begin to shift out of alignment. The changes can also affect your facial appearance, causing sagging skin and wrinkles.
The Importance of Bone Mass and Implant Success
When faced with tooth loss, it is important to have those missing teeth replaced. Dental implants are the most popular treatment for achieving this goal, providing numerous benefits over traditional bridges and dentures. However, for dental implants to be successful, you need to have sufficient bone mass remaining in the jaw. The posts of your implants rely on your jawbone for stability. As you heal, the bone fuses to the posts, integrating them into the jaw. If you do not have enough bone mass left in your jaw, the bone cannot properly fuse. The implant posts may not even integrate at all. These issues can lead to loose, unstable implants or even complete implant failure.
What Is a Bone Graft?
A bone graft is a surgical procedure that is designed to restore missing bone mass. For dental purposes, the procedure is performed to restore missing bone mass in your jaw. A bone graft involves the transplanting of bone tissue into the areas where the original bone mass was lost. Essentially, the procedure is done to provide structural integrity, restoring your facial shape and making it possible for dental implants to be successfully placed within the jaw.
A History of Bone Grafting
Bone grafting is not a new procedure. It has been documented as an important part of medicine as far back as the 1600s. Shortly following the invention of the microscope, a Dutch doctor by the name of Jacob van Meekeren performed the first bone graft. His patient was a soldier who had suffered skull damage. Because there was no understanding about bone grafting materials, van Meerkeren used dog bone. The surgery was successful, but the soldier returned later and asked for the grafting material to be removed. The soldier had been excommunicated from his church due to the graft because the church thought him to now be part dog. When van Meerkeren went to remove the grafting material, he discovered just how well bone grafting worked. The graft could not be removed.
Over the next 150 years, bone grafting underwent significant development. In 1821, the first autogenous bone graft, a graft that uses bone mass from the patient, was performed in Germany. The bone grafting procedure continued to develop throughout World Wars I and II, as critically wounded soldiers needed more advanced treatments. Today, bone grafting continues to be a popular treatment for many medical procedures, including restoring bone mass for the placement of dental implants.
What Types of Bone Grafts Are There?
There are several different types of bone grafts available. During your initial consultation, we go over the various options with you and can determine the best course of action based on your situation and your needs.
How Is Bone Grafting Done?
Bone grafting is a surgical procedure. The procedure is done under a local anesthetic, which ensures that you do not feel any pain while we work. We can also provide sedation, which is designed to help you feel comfortable and relaxed throughout your procedure. During your initial consultation, we go over your sedation options and choose the option that will best suit your needs.
When the surgery begins, we create small incisions in your gums to expose the weakened areas of your jaw, where the grafting material will be placed. We then fill the empty spaces with bone grafting material. If your graft is autogenous, we create additional surgical sites where we are harvesting your bone and remove the necessary material. It is then placed where it needs to be in your jaw and secured. Once your surgery is complete, the surgical wounds are sutured closed, and you can begin the healing process.
In some situations, your teeth do not fall out on their own. Whether the teeth are damaged by physical damage, or they are severely decayed, these teeth may need to be extracted. When extracting a tooth, an empty hole is left behind. A socket preservation procedure is performed following tooth extraction. By filling the empty socket with bone grafting material, we can help preserve the shape, strength, and integrity of the jaw. The grafting also acts as a base, providing a place for new bone to migrate to and form new layers of bone cells. By performing a bone graft so soon after tooth loss in an empty socket, you can prevent bone loss and the shifting of the alignment of your natural teeth.
A ridge augmentation is a type of bone graft procedure that is often performed when a significant amount of bone mass is lost from the jaw following tooth loss. It is meant to restore the height, width, and mass of the jaw, while evening out the ridge at the same time. An allogenic bone graft, or allograft, is often done to fill in the voids left behind, giving your jawbone the necessary framework that it needs.
Sinus Lift Procedure
There are several sinus cavities in your head. Two of these sinus cavities, the maxillary sinus cavities, are located just behind the cheeks, right above each side of the upper jaw. Some of the roots of your natural teeth reach toward the cavities without interfering with it. When you lose these teeth and then begin losing bone mass, the layer of bone between the jaw and the cavities becomes very thin. When dental implants are used to replace those teeth, there is a risk that the posts can pierce through the sinus cavities. If this happens, you are at significant risk for developing chronic sinus infections and other complications. A sinus lift is a procedure that is performed to lift the floors of the sinus cavities. After the floors are lifted up, the bone grafting material is placed in the empty space underneath. This not only provides your implants with the stability they need for success but also helps to protect your sinus cavities as well.
Benefits of Bone Grafting
Bone grafting provides several benefits. These benefits include:
Potential Complications of Bone Grafting
While bone grafts have years of research and development behind them, making the procedure a very successful treatment, there are still risks for complications to occur. Potential complications that may be experienced include:
If you have lost teeth and have been told that you do not have enough bone mass to support dental implants, you may be a candidate for a bone graft. For more information, and to schedule your consultation, call Blue Summit Dental Group today at (810) 214-3889.
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