For those who are missing one or more teeth, the cosmetic effect of a dental implant is unparalleled. Dental implants look and function the same as regular teeth, so a successful implant is just about undetectable. With any oral surgery, it is important to make sure that you understand both the procedure and its effects; dental implants are no different. One of the main things to be aware of with dental implant surgery is the possibility of needing a bone graft. Here, we have broken down just what dental implant surgery entails to better explain what a bone graft is and why you may need one.

What is dental implant surgery?
Dental implant surgery is a procedure that replaces tooth roots with metal, screw-like posts and replaces damaged or missing teeth with artificial teeth that look and function much like real ones. This procedure can offer a welcome alternative to dentures or bridgework that often does not fit or function as well. How the surgery is performed depends on the type of implant and the condition of the jawbone. However, all dental implant surgeries occur in stages and may involve several procedures. These procedures require the bone to heal tightly around the implant, so the process can take many months. When the bone heals, this secures one of the major benefits of dental implant surgery: a solid foundation for the newly implanted teeth.

Why are they done?

Dental implants are surgically placed in your jawbone, where they serve as the roots of missing teeth. Because the titanium in the implants fuses with the jawbone, the implants won’t slip, make noise, or cause bone damage the way fixed bridgework or dentures might. Even more, the materials in these implants can’t decay like teeth that support regular bridgework can. In general, dental implants may be the best solution if you:

  • Have one or more missing teeth
  • Have a jawbone that has reached full growth
  • Have adequate bone to secure the implants or are able to have a bone graft
  • Have healthy oral tissues
  • Don’t have health conditions that will affect bone healing
  • Are unable or unwilling to wear dentures
  • Want to improve your speech
  • Are willing to commit several months to the process

When are bone grafts necessary?
In order for dental implant surgery to be successful, the bone has to be strong and firm enough to support the powerful chewing action of your mouth, which puts great pressure on the jawbone. If your jawbone isn’t thick or firm enough to support the implant, you may need bone grafting before you can have dental implant surgery. Your oral surgeon may need to transplant a small portion of bone, commonly from another site in the upper or lower jawbone, to give the dental implant a solid foundation.

What happens during a bone graft procedure?
In a bone graft procedure, a piece of bone can be removed from another part of your jaw or your body. Alternatively, the most common practice is now to use a special bone grafting material and graft it onto your jawbone. After this procedure, it takes several months for the graft to create enough new, strong bone to make sure that the implant will be stable and secure. It is possible if you only need a minor graft that the procedure might be able to be done at the same time as the implant surgery. This process is largely dependent on the condition of your own jawbone. A successful bone graft strengthens your jawbone enough to support your dental implant. Once the bone graft is complete, the rest of the implant surgery can proceed. As with any surgical procedure, it is important to discuss your personal medical history and all the risks and benefits of the surgery with your dental specialist.

Do you have any questions about bone grafts? Call Westermeier Martin Dental care to schedule an appointment with your dentist 716-508-4547.