What To Know About Dental Bone Regeneration And Grafting

Bone grafting infographic

If you’re considering dental implants, you know you need a long-lasting artificial tooth solution. What you may not realize is that bone regeneration could be part of your process toward dental implants. Most dental implants are inserted directly into the jawbone to function like a natural tooth’s roots. This structure provides a solid foundation for the implant and allows you to use the tooth like you would natural teeth.

Factors like oral health and the length of time you’ve been missing a tooth can weaken and thin the jaw. Bone regeneration — also known as a bone graft — is completed in situations when a patient’s jawbone cannot properly support a dental implant. Bone graft procedures provide an excellent opportunity to strengthen a jaw back to the point where it can properly support a dental implant. This could allow many patients, including you, to enjoy the benefits of dental implants and restored oral health.

What Is Bone Regeneration?

Bone regeneration is a procedure that uses other bone as a scaffold to grow new bone in weak jawbone areas. This is necessary because once you no longer have tooth roots securing a portion of your jaw, that bone will begin to deteriorate. Depending on the type of bone graft, you can expect one or more grafting procedures, a short recovery period and a longer healing period.

Bone grafting infographic

Based on your situation, there are three different types of bone grafts you may require:

  • Socket graft: A socket graft typically occurs after a patient has a tooth extracted. The procedure seeks to repair or protect the socket that remains after the extraction. Bone material is typically inserted directly into the socket to encourage new growth that could support an implant.
  • Ridge preservation graft: A ridge preservation graft seeks to maintain and rebuild the alveolar ridge located in the roof of a patient’s mouth behind the front teeth. Tooth extraction in this area leaves an empty socket in the ridge bone. Preservation grafts use bone material to protect and rebuild this ridge to support a dental implant.
  • Sinus graft: The roots of some of your upper teeth extend upward into your empty sinus cavity. When one of these teeth is extracted, the empty socket leaves a thin section of bone separating the mouth from the sinuses. To place a dental implant in this area, a patient may undergo a sinus graft to thicken this wall of bone to the point where it can support an implant.

For some, bone grafting for dental implants may seem intimidating and spark several questions. Other common questions you have about bone regeneration include:

  • Are dental bone grafts necessary?Bone grafts are not always necessary but are common. If your jaw has begun to deteriorate after losing a tooth, you may need a bone graft to restore its strength. Our doctors will determine what you need to support your dental implant.
  • Is dental bone grafting painful?Like any oral surgery, you may experience swelling, bruising or bleeding at the grafting site. Our doctors may prescribe antibiotics or painkillers afterward to keep you comfortable and prevent infection.
  • What are the long-time effects of bone regeneration? When you have a dental implant placed after bone regeneration, the implant helps to protect the newly grown bone. The chewing you do after the graft and implant have healed will exercise the newly grown bone and keep it healthy for years to come.

Pros and Cons of Bone Regeneration Options

Another variable to the type of bone graft procedure you receive includes what the bone graft is made of. Each bone graft material offers certain advantages and disadvantages based on your preferences and situation. Ultimately, your clinician will assess your case and recommend a bone option that will work best.

Autograft

In an autograft, our doctors may use bone from a different location on your body to help grow new jawbone. To accomplish this, bone may be harvested from your jaw, hip or tibia.

The pros of an autograft include:

  • There is a much smaller risk that your body may reject the bone during grafting.
  • Clinicians can easily take bone from nonessential areas.

The cons of an autograft include:

  • There will be an additional surgical site and procedure.

Allograft

An allograft uses bone from a human donor. This type of bone typically comes from a bone bank and can be implanted similarly to an autograft.

The pros of an allograft include:

  • There is no additional surgical site or procedure necessary.
  • Allografts are commonly used and available.

The cons of an allograft include:

  • The bone sterilization process may lead to slower bone graft healing.

Xenograft

xenograft uses bone from animals with similar bone structures as humans. This commonly includes bovine or equine bones.

The pros of a xenograft are:

  • There is no additional surgical site or procedure necessary.
  • The animal bones available are extremely similar to human bones.
  • Animal bones may reduce the risk of infection.

The cons of a xenograft:

  • Some patients may feel uncomfortable using animal bone.

Alloplastic

An alloplastic graft uses synthetic material to stimulate bone growth. Alloplastic grafts typically include glass made from a mineral that naturally occurs in bone, which makes it safe for patients and suitable for bone regeneration.

The pros of alloplastic grafts include:

  • There is no additional surgical site or procedure necessary.
  • There is no risk of disease transmission from the bone.

The cons of alloplastic grafts include:

What to Expect During Bone Grafting?

Your bone graft surgery experience will vary based on the type of grafting you receive and the extent of the procedure. If you undergo an autograft, the surgical team will first harvest the bone using anesthesia to ease any discomfort.

For the dental bone grafting procedure, our doctor will first administer anesthesia then make an incision in the gums where the regeneration is necessary.  They will then carefully place the bone grafting material. In some cases, our doctor may add a protective membrane to assist with bone growth. To finish the surgery, the doctor will close the gums with a few stitches.

How Long Does It Take to Recover from a Dental Bone Graft?

Dental bone graft recovery occurs in two general phases. In your initial recovery following the procedure, you can expect to:

  • Limit physical activity
  • Eat bland and soft foods
  • Begin taking antibiotics
  • Take painkillers as needed
  • Dress and care for the graft site
  • Experience mild swelling or discomfort
  • Ice any swollen or painful areas

Your surgical team will give you instructions to help guide your recovery. In general, you can expect to feel more normal after a few weeks. After your initial recovery, your bone graft will need time to heal and grow new jawbone. You shouldn’t feel any pain during this growth process but know that it may take several months. Your surgeon will monitor the progress and decide when your jaw is ready for a dental implant procedure.

High-Quality Products for Your Dental Bone Regeneration and Implants

Dental bone regeneration could be a crucial step to restoring your smile. Along every step of your tooth restoration journey, you deserve high-quality care and products. We only offer state-of-the-art implant and bone regeneration materials and options to fill these needs. Contact us to set up your consultation appointment today.