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Common questions about bone grafts

Bone grafting is something that most patients have never heard of until they need one. While it might sound quite intense, it’s usually a very simple surgery.

Here are some of the common questions patients have about the procedure.

What is bone grafting?

Bone grafting is a procedure that is used to increase the volume of bone in an area of your jaw. Grafting works by joining real human bone or a special bone grafting material to your jaw to encourage your jawbone to produce new bone tissue.

The procedure is sometimes required to prepare your jaw for a dental implant in an empty socket that has been missing a tooth for a long time. It’s also used to correct certain jaw defects or after facial trauma.

Is it painful?

Bone grafting is a surgical procedure and does require a small incision in the gum tissue. Patients can expect a small amount of post-operative soreness and swelling but the discomfort is typically managed with ice packs and over-the-counter pain medication.

How long does the healing process take?

Bone grafting does require a certain degree of patience. The material used in a graft doesn’t actually stay in your body. Slowly your body will remove the minerals and replace them with new bone. While discomfort subsides within 48 hours and surgical recovery will typically be complete in about a week, the maturing process can take up to six months.

Where does the bone come from?

Bone material can either be harvested from another site on the patient’s body (usually the chin or the back of the jaw) or obtained through a tissue bank. Donor bone is purified, freeze-dried and sometimes de-mineralized so that your body will not recognize the donor tissue as foreign.

How can I avoid bone grafting?

The simplest way to avoid needing a bone graft is to replace your missing tooth with an implant immediately after losing the tooth.  Bone deterioration can be caused by the lack of downward pressure on the jawbone. This pressure stimulates the growth of new bone. A titanium implant will stimulate your jawbone in the same way a natural root will.