Because dental implants are attached to the upper or lower jawbone, there must be enough bone to anchor the implant.
In cases where there has been quite a bit of time between the loss of the tooth and the implant, there is often deterioration of the jawbone, which makes it impossible to anchor the dental implant without first rebuilding the bone that was lost.
If there is not enough bone for dental implants, the dentist will have to do a bone graft first so that the jawbone will be able to support the implants.
Why do I need a bone graft to get dental implants?The easy answer is that you don’t have enough bone in your jaw to support the implants, but there are many underlying reasons why that might be the case.
It could be that you’ve lost bone during the time since you lost your tooth or teeth. Your bone density could also be weakened by periodontal disease, gum disease, acid damage, infections, or other medical conditions.
Where does the bone come from? In most cases, the doctor will use your own bone for the bone graft. Bone material can be taken from the chin, the back part of the jaw, the hip, or the shin bone.
If bone is taken from your hip, you’ll have to undergo general anesthesia at a hospital. It is also possible to use bone from cadavers or cows. Synthetic materials are available for grafting as well.
What is the success rate for bone grafts? The success rate is very high, but bone grafts do occasionally fail. If the graft fails, your doctor will remove it. Bone grafts are more likely to fail if you smoke.
What are the alternatives to a bone graft? There is a fairly new product called bone morphogenetic protein-2 (BMP-2) that can stimulate cells to turn into bone without grafting. Your dentist can explain the risks and benefits of this procedure if you’re not sure about having a bone graft done.
How long does the graft need to heal before the implant can be attached? It usually takes between six and nine months for the bone graft to fully heal. After that, your dentist can go ahead with setting the implants in your jaw.
If you have any other questions about bone grafts for dental implants, be sure to ask your dentist before you go ahead with the procedure. It’s important that you understand the process so you can make an informed decision about your treatment.
About the Author: Natlie Lovekin works with Canada Bay Dental, dentists in Breakfast Point, Sydney specializing in cosmetic and restorative dentistry.