Bone grafting is a procedure where your body is stimulated to produce bone in a certain area. It sounds daunting, but dental bone grafting is an outpatient procedure. It helps the bone in your jaw become strong enough to support a dental implant or another prosthesis or replaces the bone that was lost through gum disease.
Other Reasons for Bone Grafts
Doctors may give a patient a bone graft if they have a bone anywhere in their body that’s been broken so badly that it can’t heal on its own. Doctors may also recommend a bone graft for a fracture that hasn’t healed properly or if the bone is diseased. Some people have a bone graft if they undergo spinal surgery or to support a prosthetic such as a knee or hip replacement.
Bone Grafting Procedure
The procedure depends on where the bone graft is needed. During a bone graft for a dental procedure, the bone material is either harvested from you to remove the risk of rejection or it is taken from a cadaver or an animal and purified. Some dentists use material made of calcium and other minerals. This is called an alloplastic. Nowadays, most dental bone graft material doesn’t come from you. The material comes in the form of powder, gel, putty, or another material that is easy to inject through a needle.
Most patients only need local anesthesia for a dental bone graft, though if you’re are sensitive or nervous about the operation, you can choose IV sedation. During the procedure, the dentist opens the gum, removes debris, cleans the area then inserts the graft material. They add mesh filters or proteins that further stimulate the production of bone and other tissue. Sometimes the dentist places a mesh between your gum and your jawbone to keep the gum from growing where it shouldn’t.
If the graft is used for spinal surgery or to repair a fracture, the patient is treated in the operating room under general anesthesia. The surgeon makes incisions in the area that’s to be treated and in the pace where the bone is to be harvested. Bone grafts usually come from the pelvic bone, a leg bone or one of the ribs. The surgeon takes away a small bit of bone from one of these areas.
During this surgery, the graft serves as a bridge between two bones that need to fuse. It is secured with screws, cages, plates or rods. Then, both incisions are closed.
As with surgery, the recovery period for a dental graft and another kind of graft varies. Some patients who get bone grafts stay in the hospital for a night or two while others go home soon after the surgery. A person who has had a graft to help a broken bone heal may need to keep the area immobile for a long time. The doctor prescribes painkillers and anticoagulants to keep the blood from clotting. Some patients may need drains to take away excess fluid from the surgical site, and they’ll need to return to their doctor to remove sutures or staples and make sure that they are healing properly.
With a dental bone graft, you can go home the same day. The dentist prescribes pain medicine, but the pain goes away after a few days. You may also need to have a soft diet for a few days. As with a larger bone graft, it will take some time for your body to replace the bone that was lost. In the case of a dental graft, the replacement can take weeks or months. You’ll need to visit your dentist regularly to make sure that the surgery is healing well and that the bone in your jaw is being replaced. The dentist does this by taking X-rays of your mouth.
At some point, the dentists will decide that there’s enough bone in your jaw for dental implants or dentures.
If you live in Phoenix or Gilbert area and are wondering if you need a bone graft for a dental procedure, don’t hesitate to call Dental Specialty Associates for a consultation. Our Gilbert number is 480 633-9977 and our Phoenix number is 602 795-5995.