For patients that are seeking out dental implants, they often come to see me and hear that they are going to have to have to undergo bone grafting before they are able to have their dental implants placed. The most obvious questions that follow involve the what bone grafting is and the purpose of bone grafting.
What Is Bone Grafting?
Bone Grafting is the procedure of adding bone to an area of the mouth where it is missing. It can be used in any area of the mouth where it is needed. When adding bone to a patient’s mouth, I will use one of three types of bone: autogenous, allograft, or alloplasts. Autogenous bone is bone that belongs to the patient receiving it. Allograft bone refers to donor bone and alloplasts are synthetic bone substitutes. I often use a combination of the above as well.
In addition to the bone, I may in some instances add PRP, a healing agent that comes from your blood and is accessed through the IV. The area will be closed off with either a collagen, synthetic, or donor membrane.
Why Is Bone Grafting Performed?
Bone grafting is performed for two reasons: to create enough bone for dental implants or to fill out bone deterioration under the gums. Bone grafting is often needed when a patient has been without teeth for a while or for another reason has lost bone in the area where the implant will be placed. The human body resorbs or "melts away" bone in the jaws after teeth are lost because the area is not under function any longer. The dental implant will need the bone in order to hold it in place. If the bone grafting is to fill out the bone alone, the reason is generally cosmetic or for gum contour reasons.
Time Frame of Bone Grafting
Often, the dental implant can be placed at the same time the bone grafting surgery is performed. However, this will often depend on the individuals particular anatomy and clinical situation.
When bone grafting is done before the dental implant is placed, healing time for the bone to heal prior to having the implant placed usually ranges from 3 to 6 months.
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