Do you need bone grafting before dental implants?
The replacement of a lost tooth or teeth using dental implants is a daily occurrence in modern dental practices. Nearly everyone has heard of dental implants, however not many people have heard of bone grafting. Bone grafting and dental implants are two processes that often occur simultaneously.
In the jaw, the bone that supports teeth is only there as long as the teeth are present. When a tooth is removed, there will be a “hole” in the bone where the tooth root once was. Left to heal by itself, research has shown we may lose 30-40% of the volume of bone in the area. So, time is of the essence if you wish to replace the lost tooth with an implant.
Dental implants are titanium screws that are screwed into the jaw bone. If there has been lots of bone loss in the area prior to implant placement, the positioning of the dental implant may be compromised.
Bone grafting is essentially the repair or replacement of bone by transplanting healthy bone or bone substitutes into the area to be re-built. The type of grafting procedure performed will depend on the amount of bone that is needed to replace the lost bone.
In order to prevent bone loss, once a tooth is removed, the “extraction socket” may be filled with chips of bone from other parts of your jaw. Alternatively synthetic material or bone from a non-human source may be used. This “grafted” material acts as a scaffold through which bone will form, until eventually the grafted material is replaced by your own bone.
In cases where large amounts of bone are required, a “block graft” may be used. Block grafts involve taking a small “block” of bone from the patient’s lower jaw and securing it into the required position. Following a suitable healing time, dental implants may be placed into the newly formed or grafted bone.
In the upper jaw, the area above the teeth is an air-filled cavity called the maxillary sinus. Should there be insufficient bone in the upper jaw following tooth extraction, it may be possible to raise the height of the sinus in what is called a “sinus lift” procedure. This will provide more space into which a bone graft may be placed, thus allowing implant placement.
The thought of surgery can be scary for most people. Thankfully through careful planning before teeth are extracted, many of the more complicated procedures may be avoided. Should large areas of bone already be lost, fortunately the use of intravenous sedation or even general anaesthetic truly make the procedures a “forgettable” experience as you have no or very little memory of the procedure.
Should you have lost a tooth or are about to, ask your dentist about the replacement options prior to having the tooth removed.
B.D.S(Hons).(Syd). MDSc (Melb, Grad.Dip.Clin.Dent (Oral Implants), Grad.Dip.Clin.Dent (Conscious Sedation & Pain Control), FRACDS, FPFA, Senior Clinical Associate (Uni of Syd), Dental Surgeon.