If you have lost a tooth or teeth, dental implants can restore your smile. Implants look natural, don’t impact the healthy teeth around them, and protect the underlying bone from the bone loss that can be caused by a missing tooth.
One important prerequisite for a successful implant: the bone in the jaw that will hold the implant must be healthy, and must be the appropriate size and strength to allow osseointegration (the fusion of the implant with the jawbone) to take place. If the bone isn’t wide enough, high enough, or dense enough, the success of the implant will be in jeopardy.
An implant, unlike a denture or a bridge, is rooted in the jaw much like your tooth. A cylinder is implanted in the bone, and will later hold the abutment which attaches to the final crown. Because a great deal of pressure is placed on our teeth with everyday functions such as chewing, the bone must be strong enough to successfully fuse with the implant.
Fortunately, Dr. Ford and Dr. Guter can actually restore the density and shape of your jawbone if the bone isn’t suitable for an implant. This reconstruction is accomplished with bone grafting.
Why Would You Need a Bone Graft?
The bone structure which supports our teeth can be compromised in a number of ways. We might recommend a bone graft if you have insufficient bone due to causes such as:
- Bone Loss Caused by Tooth Loss
The bone tissue which supports our teeth needs the stimulation of biting and chewing to stay healthy. Without that stimulation, the bone area under the missing tooth gradually shrinks. The bone tissue is resorbed into the body, which, in a relatively short amount of time, can lead to a noticeable sunken spot where the tooth used to be. Bone grafting will rebuild this area—and a dental implant will provide the tissue stimulation that a natural tooth would, helping to prevent future bone loss in the jaw.
- Gum Disease
As gum disease progresses, the gums pull away from the teeth, leaving the bone and connective tissue exposed to infection and bacteria. Infection and the body’s own response to bacteria can cause deterioration in the bone structure supporting the teeth. Bone loss cannot be reversed, but a graft can replace lost bone and allow healthy tissue to regenerate.
- Pre-existing Bone Conditions or Traumatic Injuries
In the case of bone structure that is naturally less thick or dense, or bone which has been damaged by accident or injury, a bone graft can provide a solid basis for an implant.
What Takes Place in a Bone Grafting Procedure?
Bone grafting is a type of oral surgery. Bone tissue for grafting may be taken from your own body, or a graft material composed of safe and sterile donor tissue or synthetic substitutes can be used. This second kind of graft will be absorbed gradually by the body as your own new, healthy bone tissue replaces it.
If you decide a bone graft is your best option, we will discuss the options for grafting with you during your appointment at our Virginia Beach, VA office, and use imaging to map out the area of bone loss and to create the best individual treatment plan for you.
After anesthesia, an incision will be made in the gum tissue to reveal the damaged bone. Grafting material will be shaped and secured to the affected area, and sutures are generally used to close the incision. We will give you careful instructions for after care and follow-up visits. The time it takes for you to heal completely will depend on the type and size of the graft.
We recommend bone graft surgery when it will provide the best, most successful foundation for your dental implant procedure. Oral surgeons have years of medical and surgical training in the complex relationship and interaction of bone, muscle, and nerve. We are uniquely qualified to provide a skillful, safe, and effective bone grafting procedure.
When you choose an implant, one of your primary goals is the aesthetic restoration of your smile. Just as important, you are also making sure that the bones supporting your teeth will remain heathy and strong. Talk to us about bone grafting, and how we can start you on your way to a lifetime of beautiful smiles.