A dental bone graft is necessary when bone loss has occurred in the jaw. This procedure is commonly performed prior to dental implant placement or when bone loss is negatively affecting neighboring teeth.
A dental bone graft adds volume and density to your jaw in areas where bone loss has occurred. The bone graft material may be taken from your own body (autogenous), or it may be purchased from a human tissue bank (allograft) or an animal tissue bank (xenograft). In some instances, the bone graft material may be synthetic (alloplast).
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Once the bone graft has been placed, it holds space for your own body to do the repair work. In other words, a dental bone graft is like a scaffold on which your own bone tissue can grow and regenerate.
In some cases, your dental provider may combine a dental bone graft with platelet-rich plasma (PRP). This is taken from a sample of your own blood and is used to promote healing and tissue regeneration.
A person with bone loss in their jaw usually needs a dental bone graft. This procedure may be recommended if you:
Dental bone grafts are extremely common. They may be performed by a general dentist or a specialist, such as a periodontist or an oral surgeon.
Yes. There are four main types, including:
Your dentist will perform an oral examination to check the health of your teeth, gums and jaw. Dental X-rays or scans will be taken to determine the extent of your bone loss. Next, your dentist will discuss your treatment options with you and create a personalized treatment plan to meet your needs.
First, your dental provider will numb the area with local anesthetic. Next, they'll create a small incision in your gums. Gum tissue is moved back slightly so that the jawbone is visible. After cleaning and disinfecting the area, your dentist adds bone grafting material to repair the defect. In many cases, the bone graft is covered with a membrane for additional protection. Finally, the gum tissue is repositioned and the incision is closed with stitches.
Following a dental bone graft, you may have pain, swelling and bruising. These are normal side effects that should diminish in a few days. Symptoms can be managed with pain relievers. Your dentist may give you antibiotics as well. These should be taken exactly as prescribed.
You might notice small fragments of bone coming out of the site over the first few days. These pieces often resemble grains of salt or sand. This usually isn’t a cause for concern, but call your dentist to make sure that you’re healing as expected.
Most people who have dental bone grafts report little to no pain. Just be sure you take all medications as prescribed and follow your post-operative instructions closely.
Typically, placement of a bone graft does not require being put to sleep; it can be done easily with local anesthesia. Many dental providers can offer sedation for your comfort, including nitrous oxide, oral sedation and IV sedation. If your case is more involved, general anesthesia may be recommended. Ask your dentist which option is right for you.
Dental bone grafts have impressively high success rates. However, as with any procedure, failure is a possibility — especially among people who smoke or have certain medical conditions. Signs of dental bone graft failure include:
Dental bone grafts can increase your eligibility for dental implants and other restorative treatments. This procedure restores your jaw to its original form following trauma, tooth loss or gum (periodontal) disease.
Bone grafts in your mouth are generally safe. However, the procedure carries some risks, including:
Though you will probably feel back to normal within a week or two, complete dental bone graft healing can take between three and nine months – sometimes longer. Recovery times depend on several factors, including the type of graft, the area in which the graft was placed and your body’s healing capacity.
In most cases, people can return to work or school the day after the procedure. If you choose sedation, you may need to take an extra day or two to recover at home.
As mentioned above, recovery times can vary significantly for each person. Once the bone graft is placed, your dentist will monitor your healing. If you’re waiting to undergo dental implant surgery, they will let you know when your new bone is strong enough to support the implant.
If you’ve had a dental bone graft placed, keep an eye out for troubling symptoms. Call your dentist if you experience:
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Jawbone loss is detrimental to your oral health and can cause a domino effect of problems, including mobility and tooth loss. Dental bone grafts help improve your candidacy for dental implants and other restorative procedures. If you think you have jawbone deterioration, dental surgery can restore your oral health, function and overall quality of life.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 09/27/2021.
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