When bone loss prevents dental implant surgery to replace lost or missing teeth, a bone graft can restore strong and healthy bone tissue and provide a base for restorative dental work. Are bone grafts for dental implants safe for most people? Let’s discuss the procedure, including the risks and benefits of dental bone grafts and how to prepare.
What Is a Bone Graft?
Bone grafting can be used to repair or replace missing bone tissue almost anywhere in the body, including the face and jaw. This surgical procedure inserts a small piece of graft material into place, and the body slowly bonds with and eventually replaces the graft with new, healthy bone.
Bone tissue has the ability to regenerate completely in many cases, as long as there is a lattice or scaffold to provide space and structure. Over time, most bone grafts are expected to be absorbed and replaced by the new bone cells. There are several types of graft materials that can be used:
- Autologous or Autografts. These bone graft materials are taken from the patient’s own body, typically from the hip bone.
- Bone graft materials that are obtained from a bone bank.
- Bone graft materials from another species, which is rarely used in dental bone grafts.
- Alloplasts or Synthetics. Materials like Bioglass (calcium sodium phosphosilicate) or calcium phosphate are sometimes used for bone grafting.
Who Is a Candidate for Dental Bone Grafting?
Dental bone grafts are used to treat bone loss associated with tooth loss and periodontal disease. When the bone is too thin or weak to support a dental implant or crown, your restorative dentist may recommend a bone graft procedure. It is very common to need bone grafting for dental implants, so the procedure is well established, widely used, and considered safe for most people.1
Your dentist is likely to recommend a bone graft or sinus lift to:
- Strengthen and stabilize the jaw bone after tooth extractions, infection, or gum disease.
- Treat traumatic injuries or genetic conditions.
- Replace bone loss that is altering your appearance.
- Provide a strong base for dental implants, crowns, or other restorative dental work.
What Are the Risks of a Bone Grafting Procedure?
While studies have shown that bone grafting for dental implants is a safe and effective treatment option,1 there are risks to any surgical procedure or bone graft. Following your dentist’s aftercare instructions will help you avoid potential complications like these, which you should report to your dental surgeon immediately:
- Pain that persists or worsens several days after the procedure
- Swelling or redness of gum tissues that grows worse rather than better
- Tingling or numbness that is persistent after the procedure
- An implant or crown that becomes loose, which might indicate the graft has failed
What to Expect with a Dental Bone Graft
Preparing for a bone graft for dental implants is fairly simple. Your dentist will instruct you to avoid eating or drinking for 8 to 12 hours before your procedure. You should report to your dentist any medications you use, especially blood thinners, and arrange for a ride home after the procedure.
Bone Graft Procedure
When you arrive for your bone graft procedure, the exact process might vary depending on the type of bone graft material used and your unique treatment plan, but, in general, your procedure will involve these steps:
- You will be given anesthesia and will likely be asleep for the process, while your vital signs are constantly monitored.
- After cleaning the affected area, the surgeon will make a small incision in the gums to gain access to the bone.
- The bone graft material will be placed in the area that needs additional support and secured with dissolving adhesive, a membrane, or (in rare cases) surgical screws.
- The incision will be closed and the area will be packed with gauze.
- You will wake up and be under supervision for a short time, and then be able to leave the office with a safe ride home.
Aftercare for a Dental Bone Graft
It will usually take a few months for the bone graft to grow strong enough to have your dental implant procedure. During this time, it is important to follow your dentist’s instructions in the early phases of the healing process and until it is time for the next step in your treatment plan.
These instructions will include:
- Directions on changing the gauze dressing for the next 24 hours
- Prescriptions for pain relievers and antibiotics if appropriate
- Using ice packs to reduce pain and swelling for the first few days
- Sleeping with your head elevated for a few nights
- Avoiding hot liquids and hard, crunchy foods until your bone has healed
- The length of time to avoid contact sports or other vigorous physical activities
- A follow up appointment with X-rays to check on the progress of the bone graft
Finding an Expert in Restorative Dentistry
Bone grafts for dental implants are considered a safe and effective way to improve your oral health and restore a beautiful smile. When you are choosing a trusted professional to perform your restorative dentistry, consider their reputation and expertise before making your appointment. Dr. Joseph Goodman of the Top Beverly Hills Dentist practice is highly qualified and internationally recognized as an expert in the field.
Dr. Goodman was voted the top dentist for the past several years and graduated magna cum laude after finishing his doctoral thesis in Germany. He then earned his second doctoral degree from UCLA. In the years since, he has worked alongside Dr. Phil on challenging cases for deserving people and celebrities nationwide.
You can schedule a consultation with Dr. Goodman and his team in Beverly Hills to discuss the best options for you. If you are traveling for your appointments, we offer a dental concierge service with recommended car services and lodgings. When you want the finest results, you should see the top dentist available to you. Contact us today to find out what procedures will be perfect for your best possible smile.