Bone Graft For Dental Implants

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Being edentulous or missing a tooth can be more than an inconvenience. One missing tooth can set off a chain reaction of unwanted dental problems. 

As a result, once a tooth is missing, two dental issues can begin. First, strain is placed on the remaining and surrounding teeth. Second, the underlying gum of that missing tooth is now grinding food. 

Once food begins to grind on the gum, the problem worsens. First, gum disease can spread throughout the entire mouth. Second, the jawbone under the gum can become damaged.

Another critical fact to remember is that the nutrition of the entire body is affected when a tooth is missing. Since food first enters through the mouth, this becomes the first step in converting food to nutritional use. When the mouth cannot process food properly, the digestive system’s ability to break food down is impacted.

Research indicates that as much as twenty-five percent of a jawbone’s density can deplete after only one year of missing a tooth. As a result, the dentist has to repair the damaged jawbone and replace the tooth. 

Once this scenario plays out long enough, a dentist must first address the damaged jawbone. The necessary remedy is a bone graft. 

Why a Bone Graft Is Necessary

As noted, what started as a hole in your mouth has become more significant as the gum and jawbone have been worn down. A bone graft is where the filling of that hole begins.

Once the jawbone is restored with a bone graft and the tooth is replaced, normal food processing and digestion are restored.

The Bone Graft Procedure

Before the bone graft begins, your dentist will administer the proper amount of a local anesthetic.

Through X-rays and an examination, the dentist will have determined precisely where the affected jawbone area is. From that information, the dentist creates a small incision. Next, the gum tissue is gently pushed back to expose the jawbone.

Once the exposed jawbone is identified, the dentist cleans and disinfects the exposed area. Usually, a povidone-iodine is the applied disinfectant.

After the disinfectant is applied, a bone grafting material is placed to fill the gap left in the jawbone. The bone grafting material will eventually fuse with adjacent bone.

The dentist will then place a membrane over the repaired area. The membrane is a thin collagen sponge that usually comes off after one to three days.

Finally, the gum is readjusted to its natural position. The incision is then closed with stitches.

Bone Graft Materials

The majority of the time, the materials used in a dental bone graft are ceramic. This is a unique ceramic that is chemically similar to natural bone. 

The ceramic used ultimately fuses with the surrounding jawbone. The gum line is then restored to its natural state.

This ceramic material is said to be bioactive as it fuses as if it were the actual biological bone. Eventually titanium posts will be screwed into the jawbone to act as an anchor to the newly placed tooth. Since the ceramic material acts as natural bone, the anchor will fuse properly to the bone.

In lieu of ceramic the following materials can also be used in dental bone grafts as described in the National Library of Medicine.

  1. An allograft-based bone graft involves allograft bone used alone or in combination with other materials (e.g., Grafton, OrthoBlast).
  2. Factor-based bone grafts are natural and recombinant growth factors used alone or in combination with other materials such as transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-beta), platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF), fibroblast growth factors (FGF), and bone morphogenetic protein (BMP).
  3. Cell-based bone grafts use cells to generate new tissue alone or are added onto a support matrix, such as mesenchymal stem cells.
  4. Polymer-based bone graft uses degradable and nondegradable polymers alone or in combination with other materials, such as open porosity polylactic acid polymer.

Benefits of a Bone Graft

Once a bone graft has been successfully performed the patient can look forward to several benefits. 

First, chewing properly is restored once the replacement tooth has been placed. As a result, the patient’s digestive system will once again receive the benefit of a full mouth of healthy teeth. 

The digestive system starts at your mouth. When you put food in your mouth, your teeth break the food into smaller pieces and the salivary glands under your tongue and on the sides and roof of your mouth release saliva. This saliva mixes with your food to make it easier to swallow. It also has enzymes that start breaking carbohydrates into simple sugars for the body.

Next, the aesthetic appearance of your smile improves. The black hole in your smile is now replaced with an attractive new tooth.

An attractive smile gives the patient many of the following advantages:

  • Your overall appearance improves
  • Others perceive you as friendlier as you smile often
  • Others smile back as a result of your friendly smile
  • Some studies indicate you feel better when you smile

Along with improved digestion and a more attractive smile, a bone graft can stabilize the remaining jawbone. Keep in mind that before the bone graft part of the jawbone deteriorated. With the deterioration corrected, the jawbone is once again at full capacity.

In addition to the jawbone being strengthened, the surrounding gums and teeth are restored to their full function with a bone graft. 

Get To The Dentist If You Lose A Tooth

One missing tooth can begin a chain reaction of other dental problems, as described. 

The important thing to remember when you lose a tooth is to get to the dentist right away. The sooner the dentist can address the newly placed hole in your mouth, the sooner you can prevent further damage to the jawbone.

If you suddenly receive a missing tooth, Dr. Hepworth or Dr. Sherman at Whiteridge Aesthetic Dentistry is the best dental advice you can seek on how to proceed with a bone graft and replacement of the tooth.

Remember, your mouth and body need all of your teeth!

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