Dental bone grafting can be a daunting thought for people who have lost a few teeth. As we age and lose teeth, the underlying jawbone often atrophies with disuse. In the past, dental bone grafting meant a stay in the hospital and an invasive surgery where a patient’s ribs and thigh skin were harvested for implantation into the jaw.
However, the modern approach to dental bone grafts can restore the strength of your jaw in a minimally invasive way, using bovine-derived xenografts and guided tissue regeneration techniques done in an ambulatory setting at the same time as dental implants.
In some cases, a dentist may be able to perform a ridge expansion (a method of “stretching” bone, rather than drilling it) or alveoplasty (re-sculpting the bone) to avoid the need for grafting. A consultation with NYC cosmetic dentist Dr. David Blaustein will best help you explore your options and answer any questions you may have.
Why is bone grafting done?
Bone grafting may be required if:
- You need dental implants, but your jawbone isn’t hard or thick enough for the implants to take.
- Gum disease has caused a thinning of the bone, which has led to pain and/or difficulty chewing.
- You have been wearing dentures for a long time, but bone thinning or atrophy caused a decline in performance.
In many cases, a dental bone graft can vastly improve the look, feel and function of your jaw and teeth. It is an essential part of the dental implant process for patients who have suffered degeneration associated with tooth decay and gum disease.
Benefits of bone grafting
Imagine a world without bone grafts. In the past, patients who lacked bone height or width were simply told they could not receive new teeth. Their only options would be to wear dentures (that may or may not perform adequately) – or remain toothless forever. Now patients are getting better results than ever before, thanks to the art and science of implant dentistry. People can now eat, laugh, smile and talk with a new set of teeth and a stronger jaw, while avoiding the prematurely-aged, “sunken-in” look associated with insufficient bone density.
Types of dental grafting
There are many different techniques a restorative dentist may choose, but the most common are:
- The Sinus Lift: Used when the back teeth of the upper jaw are missing and the sinus cavity has expanded to fill the space, this procedure involves adding bone below the sinus.
- Ridge Expansion: Used when the jaw is narrow and an indentation has occurred along missing teeth, a ridge expansion adds material to a small ridge along the top of the jaw.
- Socket Graft: Used when a tooth is extracted (or shortly thereafter if there is an infection) to prevent bone degeneration.
Bone graft procedures in Manhattan
Bone grafts are performed in Dr. Blaustein’s office using local anesthesia to numb the area. Sedation is commonly requested and used in dental bone grafting procedures. The procedure can take anywhere from 1-2 hours. Afterward, you will be given antibiotics, pain medication, antibacterial mouthwash, and a set of instructions regarding how to avoid putting pressure on the graft. Most patients can return to work the following day. Sometimes bone grafts and tooth implants can be done all at once though some require additional time total graft healing.
When a more extensive graft is done in steps, you can expect:
- Placement of the dental implant: the gums are cut, holes are drilled into the bone, and metal posts are implanted. A partial or temporary denture may be given for appearance during the transition.
- Waiting for osseointegration to take place: your jaw unites with the graft surface to provide a solid foundation for new teeth.
- Placing the abutment: the gum is re-opened and the piece where the crown attaches is attached to the graft. This is usually done under local anesthesia on an outpatient basis.
- Choosing your new teeth: choose from either a removable denture or fixed implant prosthesis. These teeth are attached a few weeks after the abutment when the jawbone is stable enough to uphold the implants.
Chelsea dentist performs in-office bone grafting
After a bone graft, you can expect some swelling, bruising, minor bleeding and pain at the site. Most dental bone grafts are successful, but in rare cases where smoking, infection, or other complications cause implant failure, the implant will be removed, the bone cleaned, and the procedure repeated in a month or two.
We invite you to schedule a consultation with Dr. Blaustein at Chelsea Dental Aesthetics to determine your candidacy for a bone graft and discuss how to ensure the best results. Call 212-243-6081.