Bone graft for dental implants: what’s to know if you need one

A bone graft is a procedure performed to remove and create the bone of the tooth. If a person loses a tooth due to damage or trauma, the bone deteriorates and weakens over time. It is not possible to place a dental implant without a solid and stable bone structure. So, a bone graft is necessary when there is not enough bone structure to support the dental implant.

The idea of bone grafting may sound scary. But you should know that there is nothing to worry about if your doctor wants to perform a bone graft procedure before putting in a dental implant. It is a safe, common, and straightforward procedure that allows you to restore your smile. 

We’ll give some insight into all the information regarding bone grafts from the procedure to its types, the process, and why it may be necessary before getting an implant. Read below to learn everything about the importance of bone grafting for dental implants.

Bone grafting is a process to supplement the deficiency of bone to uplift its structure. For a tooth to function normally, its structure and positioning are extremely important. When you lose a tooth, the bone supporting it called the alveolar bone also starts to decline, resulting in having no bone for dental implants. So, if you’re asking yourself, “Do I need bone graft for implant?” here’s your answer. For a successful implant, this hollow space needs to be filled so that the insertion of bone material is possible. The process of bone grafting includes three steps:

  • Tooth extraction if necessary
  • Gum opening and cleaning the bone area
  • Placing the bone graft material

Tooth extraction

If the tooth is in bad shape and extraction is necessary, the dentist takes the necessary measures. A local anesthetic numbs the tooth and surrounding gums to make sure the patient does not feel a thing. Moreover, if a tooth is already missing and the patient wants an implant procedure, the dentist skips this part and proceeds to the grafting process.

Gum opening and cleaning the bone area

The next step in bone grafting is opening the gum tissue surrounding the tooth. By doing this, the alveolar bone area is obvious and it is easy for the dentist to determine the amount of graft. Then it is time to properly clean and disinfect the bone area. It is made sure that there are no signs of decay before the insertion of graft material.

Placing the graft material

Before proceeding with this step, knowledge about the types of grafts is necessary. There are four types of bone graft materials: autograft, allograft, xenograft, and alloplastic. An autograft method involves taking bone material from another body part to the affected tooth bone. Allograft on the other hand allows dentists to receive graft material from a cadaver source, i.e. a dead body. Xenografting refers to sourcing graft material via animals while alloplastic is a graft material made from man-made matters. Moving on, the insertion of graft material takes place.

Best bone graft material for a dental implant?

Types of dental bone grafts may vary. The best material for dental implant bone graft procedure is hands down Hydroxyapatite which contains calcium phosphate. It is a synthetic material and has a success rate higher than any other material such as calcium carbonate. The reason for its success is that human bone largely consists of calcium phosphate. So, the tooth bone easily accepts it and there are no complications in the regeneration process.

Bone grafting methods

According to American Dental Association, a bone graft for dental implant is a process of inserting artificial or natural material to restore the lost bone structure. Losing one or multiple teeth because of decay, injury, or some other reason leads to the thinning of tooth bone. Loss in the volume of the bone affects the jaw bone and even causes alignment issues. Ignoring a missing tooth for a long time is not healthy, as it can cause many oral health problems. From decay to cracked teeth, a dental implant is an effective and long-lasting solution to restore your teeth.

You need to choose an experienced and qualified aesthetic dentist for dental implants though. A thorough dental examination is crucial before dental implants in order to identify if someone needs bone grafting. Every person’s situation is unique and may demand a completely different solution so finding what suits them best is key. There are four types of bone grafting methods:

  • Sinus lifting
  • Ridge Augmentation
  • Socket Preservation
  • Periodontal grafting

The severity and location of the damage are two very important aspects of knowing the type of bone graft needed. Dentists determine the kind of bone grafting needed by assessing the location of the affected teeth. For instance, if someone loses one or several teeth from the upper back area, the maxillary cavity is affected. For this particular situation, dentists opt for a sinus lift before dental implant surgery.

Sinus Lifting

Sinus lifting is a common bone grafting method for patients with missing upper posterior teeth. The tooth loss causes the maxillary sinuses to slip down and take over the bone area. If the patient wishes to get a dental implant, the only way is to lift the sinus cavities before the insertion of bone material. It is a completely safe and effective procedure that improves overall oral health and solves any alignment issues.

Ridge Augmentation

When someone loses a tooth, over time “alveolar bone”, the bone of the tooth, begins to recede. Not only it recedes but also begins to lose volume. And the bone needs to function normally before the implant can be made, which means it has to return to its original state. Ridge Augmentation is a process in which dentists thicken the bone density so that it can go back to how it was and support an implant. This process is fairly common when there is bone recession due to tooth loss.

Socket Preservation

Preservation of the bone after tooth extraction or tooth loss is immensely important for the alignment of the jaw. Socket preservation is a process in which dentists immediately graft the bone after tooth extraction. The socket area is left for a few months until it is fully healed. After the healing process, the tooth is ready for the dental implant as bone regeneration takes place.

Periodontal grafting

Gum disease and other types of dental issues may cause teeth to erode and get weak. Loose teeth expose them to several problems such as cavities, bite problems, and cracks. Periodontal grafting is a process to provide support to the tooth by restoring its structure and reducing mobility.

How long does it take to recover from a bone grafting surgery?

The healing period lasts from three weeks to 3 months depending on the extent and severity of the damage. Having said that, the duration differs for everyone according to their situation. However, if you avoid certain foods, maintain good oral hygiene, and avoid physical activities that can disrupt the healing process, you will have a healthier and faster recovery. Of course, you should also follow your dentist’s post-operative care instructions. You may experience some discomfort such as pain and swelling for the first few days after the surgery, which is quite normal. Painkillers prescribed to you will relieve your pain a little. You can also make sure that there is no disruption in your process by going to your regular follow-up appointments with the dentist. After all, the time you need to be patient between bone grafting and dental implant surgery is a maximum of two to three months. 

Who is an ideal candidate for bone grafting?

Dental implants are recommended for people who have missing teeth due to cavities or injury. But, whether to have the procedure or not depends on the severity of the damage and the condition of the natural bone. You should have this procedure if the bone is too damaged to support the implant. Your dentist will determine the severity and location of the damage to determine the most suitable type of bone graft for you. This comprehensive examination will determine if bone-grafted dental implants are the right treatment option for you.

FAQ about bone grafts for dental implants

Since bone grafts can be a difficult subject to understand fully, we don’t want you to have any doubts about it. We will answer here some frequently asked questions briefly. We are sure they will help you further understand this procedure. If we somehow missed something and you’re still curious about something, get in touch with us and we’ll be glad to help you!

Is bone graft necessary before a dental implant?

This depends on the level of damage present and how much bone structure is present. If there is complete bone loss, a bone graft is necessary to support a dental implant. Dentists skip this procedure if the bone is unaffected and functioning normally.

Are bone grafts painful?

Bone grafting is a surgical procedure but there is nothing to worry about because your surgeon will use local anesthesia to sedate the tooth. With modern technology, there is a high chance that you won’t feel a thing and can easily have a beautiful smile. 

What is the success rate of dental implant bone graft?

Bone grafting procedures are known to have high success rates. Of course, there are some factors that can affect the success rate. These factors include the patient’s health, the amount of natural bone, and how skilled and experienced the dentist is. Dental bone graft success rates vary between 90% and 95%. According to a research, composite bone grafts have a 99.6% survival rate while allografts have a 90.9% survival rate. Block grafts have a survival rate of 98.9% survival rate and it is among the most common grafting methods. (1)

Are bone graft dental implants available in Turkey?

Dentistry is among the many perks of visiting Turkey. Bone grafting is a common procedure before putting in dental implants if there is excessive bone loss.  Picking an experienced and qualified dentist is key in this matter and we, at Dentfix, can make the process much easier for you. If you wonder how much is a bone graft for an implant costs, our representatives are available 24/7 to give you support if you are facing any dental dilemmas. You can get in touch with our 24/7 active call center team HERE

1. Elakkiya S, Ramesh A, Prabhu K. Systematic analysis on the efficacy of bone enhancement methods used for success in dental implants. The Journal of Indian Prosthodontic Society. 2017;17(3):219. doi:https://doi.org/10.4103/jips.jips_19_17

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