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Understanding bone grafts for implants

If you are planning to get dental implants and just found out you need a bone graft, don’t worry. This extra step ensures your replacement teeth will have a strong foundation so you can enjoy your new smile for years to come.

Why do I need a bone graft?

The purpose of a bone graft is to increase the amount of bone tissue surrounding the dental implant site. If you don’t have enough bone, your implant cannot correctly fuse to your jaw. The most common reason for bone loss is that you have been missing one or more teeth for a long time. Other factors can include developmental defects, facial trauma or gum disease.

How does a bone graft work?

Bone grafting is a surgical treatment that involves placing bone tissue collected from another part of your body (donor, animal or synthetic tissue are also used) into your tooth socket to increase bone mass. Following surgery, during the healing process, your body will slowly replace the graft material with new bone growth. Once this new bone tissue becomes part of your jaw, your bone structure will be sufficient to accept a dental implant.

What is the procedure like?

Simple bone grafts can be performed under local anesthesia while more complex bone grafting may require nitrous oxide or IV sedation. Following treatment, patients will experience some swelling and bleeding around the surgical site but discomfort is minimal and easily controlled with medication.

How long does it take for the tissue to fuse?

Most patients will need three to four months until the graft is complete and a dental implant can be placed. Your oral surgeon will monitor the condition of your new bone tissue over time to confirm when your mouth is ready for the next step.