Over one in five adults in the United States suffer from some degree of tooth loss, making this an extremely common problem amongst Americans. When a person is missing a tooth, there are many different treatment options available to them, giving them an attractive and natural-looking restoration for their lost tooth.
Dental implants are growing in popularity as a prosthetic option for these patients, but unfortunately, not every patient that walks through our door is automatically going to be a good candidate for this procedure due to excessive bone loss in their jaw.
When we here at Manhattan Maxillofacial Surgery Group meet a patient who is interested in a dental implant but may not have enough bone mass in their jaw, we like to educate them about the possibility of getting a bone graft to help restore the bone mass in the affected area.
What is a Bone Graft and When is it Necessary?
A bone graft is a surgical procedure that we perform on patients who have sustained advanced bone loss after losing a tooth. Bone loss is an inevitable side effect of losing a tooth, with patients losing 25 percent of their bone mass in the first year at the affected site. Over time, the tissue continues to recede, making it an increasing challenge for them to get dental implants.
The fact is that dental implants simply cannot be sustained in the mouth without enough bone tissue. The dental implant is comprised of a titanium screw, an abutment, and the restoration (also known as the crown, which is the part that resembles the tooth).
The titanium screw is surgically placed directly into the jawbone, and the bone will start to build up over the screw, a process called osseointegration. This helps ensure the implant is durable and strong and lasts the patient a lifetime. For this to be a success, however, there needs to be enough bone at the surgical site.
A bone graft helps make sure the bone mass is there for the implant. During a bone graft procedure, we will start by placing an incision directly into the gums to expose the area of bone loss. We will then pack the bone graft material directly onto the site where there was bone loss. Bone graft material can come from a variety of donor sources.
Some patients elect to have it taken from their own body, but bone graft material more often than not comes from outside sources. Donor tissue comes from sterilized cadavers or animals, but please know that it is quite safe and the body accepts this donor material without any issue. Once the bone graft material is placed, we will then suture the site closed again and wait for it to heal.
After Getting a Bone Graft
Healing after a bone graft can take several months, but the wait is worth it. Once the bone mass is restored, we can finally start the process of placing the dental implant. The implant will attach to the bone, giving you a lifetime of dazzling, beautiful smiles.
If you are interested in learning more about bone grafts or you would like to schedule an appointment with us to determine if you are a good candidate for dental implants, please give us a call here at Manhattan Maxillofacial Surgery Group today at (212) 287-2483!