When you hear the term “bone grafting” you might conjure scary images of Frankenstein barbarically piecing bone together or early doctors figuring out the procedure for the first time. You’d be right about one thing, bone grafting isn’t new. It is known to have been used successfully in 2000 BC by the prehistoric Khurits people. But modern medicine has come a long way since then. Instead of thinking of bone grafting as scary, think of it as a recovery method for lost bone and a solution for dental implants.

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What is Bone Grafting?

Bone grafting is a surgical procedure used to replace missing bone or heal bone fractures that are posing a health risk. During a bone grafting procedure, a doctor will take a small amount of bone from another body part or use synthetic bone grafting material to recover function and appearance at the site of injury.

In dentistry, bone grafting can be used to add to the density of your jawbone, prevent the collapse of surrounding tissue, and help prepare your jaw for dental implants. Most often, bone grafting is used to prepare your jaw for dental implants. A dental implant is a surgically inserted post that fuses to your jawbone. Dental implants serve as the replacement for a tooth’s root when you’ve lost a tooth. The dental implant acts just like your natural tooth’s root by providing stimulation for your jaw bone and concentrating bite force from chewing into your jaw. A crown that is color-matched to the rest of your teeth sits atop of your dental implant.

Dental Implants are the best tooth replacement option in dentistry and are a popular procedure used in restorative and cosmetic dentistry. Dental implants can be used to replace a tooth that is missing because of injury, gum disease, and tooth decay. With benefits like these, it’s hard to find another tooth replacement option that compares:

  • Look like natural teeth
  • Have no diet restrictions
  • Require no special care
  • Provide even pressure across your gums and jawbone to promote their health and prevent bone loss
  • Can be permanent restorations with proper care

What does this all have to do with bone grafting? There are certain situations where you may need a bone graft to get a dental implant. As a bonus, restoring jawbone density will help you look younger, too!

Why Do I Need Bone Grafting?

Dental implants need adequate bone density to fuse properly to your jawbone. Without enough jawbone density, your implant could not heal at all or fall out. In fact, low jawbone density is one of the main reasons why dental implants fail. If you and your dentist are considering dental implants, it’s important to make sure that you have enough bone and that it is strong enough to hold the implant.

There are several reasons why you may have inadequate jawbone density.

Failing to replace missing teeth promptly: Usually, if we are missing a visible tooth, we get it replaced immediately. If we are missing a non-visible, posterior tooth (like a molar) we may not be in such a hurry to get it replaced. Yes, chewing is harder without the tooth, but missing a back tooth isn’t a big deal, right? Wrong. When we chew with our natural teeth, the force of the chewing is directed into the jawbone. When we don’t have a tooth or its root to stimulate the jawbone with chewing, it begins to recede the same way a muscle gets smaller without use. This process happens quickly. Within the first year of losing an adult tooth, 25% of bone is lost and your jaw bone will continue to deteriorate as long as you don’t get it replaced.

Long-time use of dentures: Dentures can be a popular option to replace an arch or whole mouth of missing teeth. Though, the problem with dentures is that they do not stimulate the jawbone. With dentures, the bite force of chewing is directed onto your gums. Not only is this uncomfortable, but it doesn’t do anything to prevent jawbone loss. You’ll lose jawbone density just as you would with failing to replace a missing tooth.

Osteoporosis: Osteoporosis is a disease that thins and weakens the bone. This can be a problem long after you have implants and before you get them. Make sure to talk to your Columbia implant dentist if you have osteoporosis to see if implants are right for you.

Injury: Injury to your jawbone or trauma to your teeth where the biting surface is lost will push you to not use a normal bite force. This fails to stimulate the jawbone and it will deteriorate.

Smoking: Smoking cigarettes can cause jawbone loss. Nicotine is a detriment to your immune system and white blood cell count. Tissues in the mouth affected by smoking are prone to infection and gum disease. Your body is unable to heal your tissues properly because of your compromised immune system. The infection will eventually get into your bone and your jawbone will start to deteriorate. E-cigarettes aren’t okay either. They put your oral tissues at risk and therefore your jawbone.

Gum Disease: Gum disease or periodontal disease is a common infection. So common that 47.2% of adults aged 30 years and older and 70.1% of adults 65 years and older have some severity of periodontal disease. Gum disease begins with failing to brush your teeth. When you don’t practice good oral hygiene, plaque can harden and turn to tartar. That tartar can infiltrate your gum line and begin to cause tooth and jawbone decay.

Misalignment as common in TMJ Issues: When your bite is misaligned as with TMJ, your muscles try to compensate by grinding. Grinding wears your teeth down and eventually causes them to fall out. Without teeth to stimulate your jawbone, your bone will lose dentistry.

Bone grafting could be your solution to regain jawbone density so you can look younger and ready your jaw for dental implants. 

What Does the Bone Grafting Procedure Look Like?

First, your Columbia cosmetic dentist, Dr. Adam Hahn, will perform an oral examination and x-rays to assess your bone’s compatibility for dental implants. Together, you and Dr. Hahn will create a custom treatment plan. If this plan includes bone grafting, he will numb the area with a local anesthetic. Once fully numb he will move the gum tissue back and uncover the spot where the bone graft will be placed. Making sure to take the time to clean and disinfect the area, Dr. Hahn will place the bone graft where your jawbone needs recovery. Finally, he will cover the bone graft with a protective membrane and move the gum tissue back into place. After suturing the tissue, the procedure is complete. Your Columbia dentist is highly trained in bone grafting and mixes platelet-rich fibrin with the bone grafting material to promote healing.

After the procedure, you may have some pain and swelling. This is normal and will subside in a few days. Typically, bone grafting takes about four months to heal. After your bone grafting site has healed, your implant dentist can place your dental implant.

Platelet-Rich Fibrin and Why its Your Friend

Platelet-rich fibrin is a state-of-the-art second-generation platelet concentration technique. This technique is used to enhance the natural healing elements already in your blood. Dental surgeon, Dr. Hahn, will draw a small blood sample that is placed into a centrifuge to concentrate its healing elements. This platelet-rich fibrin is mixed with your bone graft material. What this means for you is that you’ll experience better healing, aided bone regeneration, graft stabilization, wound sealing, and bleeding prevention.

Anxiety-Free Dentistry

We know that some dental procedures can evoke a lot of fear and we understand that bone grafting can sound alarming. That’s why we offer sedation dentistry. You can get the procedures you need without fear and anxiety.

Do You Need a Bone Graft in Columbia, SC?

Are you wanting dental implants but aren’t sure if your jawbone can handle them? Call Dr. Adam Hahn today at (803) 781-9090 to schedule a consultation. Or, schedule an appointment online. Dr. Hahn and the team at Smile Columbia Dentistry are here to help you rejuvenate your smile and bring your mouth, teeth, and bones back to health.