When you lose a tooth, if it is not replaced, over time, your jaw bone may deteriorate, or resorb. The amount of resorption is dependent on how long the tooth has been missing and your overall health.
Later, if you want the missing tooth replaced, the lack of jaw bone makes it difficult for a dental implant to be placed successfully.
How Can Resorption be Prevented?
The only way to prevent resorption is to replace the missing tooth with an implant. Bridges and dentures do not prevent bone loss, and in the case of dentures, can make it worse.
How is Missing Bone Restored?
It is possible to grow new bone with a bone graft. Dr. Green will assess the type of grafting procedure you need so implants can be placed successfully.
Some common bone grafting procedures include:
- Socket preservation: Once a tooth is extracted, sterilized cadaver bone is placed in the socket to help preserve the bone and gum tissue for implant placement. This helps prevent resorption from occurring in the first place.
- Sinus lift procedure: This procedure involves elevating the sinus membrane and placing a bone graft onto the sinus floor, allowing implants to be placed in the back of the upper jaw.
- Ridge expansion: This procedure is used if you only need 2-3mm more bone for an implant placement. Instead of stripping the gum away from the bone, the bone is split, then using instruments, the ridge is expanded up to 3mm. The implant is then placed into the expanded ridge and the bone graft material is packed around it.
- Block Graft: A block of your own bone is harvested from either another part of the jaw or the hip. It is then secured to the area of the jaw where the implant needs to be placed. This may require surgery in the hospital, depending on the amount of grafting necessary.
If you are suffering from receding gums, Dr. Green may recommend a graft to create more tissue around an implant to reduce the risk of failure.
If you are experiencing gum recession, the tissue surrounding your teeth pulls away exposing more of the tooth and sometimes even the root. This may cause tooth loss and damage to the supporting bone.
Gum recession is a gradual process and may not be noticeable at first, which is why we encourage you to regularly monitor your oral health for changes.
Dr. Green performs three types of tissue grafts:
- Connective-tissue grafts: A flap is cut in the roof of your mouth and tissue is removed from under the flap. This tissue is stitched to the gum surrounding the exposed root of the tooth, then the flap is stitched closed.
- Free gingival grafts:Tissue from the roof of your mouth is removed and stitched to the gum tissue surrounding an exposed root. This is a common procedure for patients with thin gums.
- Pedicle grafts:Tissue is partially cut from the gum near the exposed root, leaving one edge connected, then pulled and stitched to cover the root.
What Kinds of Complications Can Occur After a Grafting Procedure?
The most common complication is infection. Dr. Green will prescribe antibiotics after your surgery. Make sure to follow the dosing instructions and finish the prescription, even if you feel fine.
Another complication is the failure of the bone graft. This happens if the graft doesn’t take or the body rapidly resorbs it. This is not a common complication but Dr. Green follows strict protocols to reduce the risk of failed grafts.
Another rare complication is the graft becoming exposed. If this happens, you will need an additional procedure to correct it.
How Long Will it Take Me to Recover From a Bone Grafting Procedure?
The length of recovery and amount of pain you may experience depends on the type of bone graft you need:
- Socket preservation: The pain and recovery is the same as for a tooth extraction because the graft is done at the same time.
- Sinus lift: You can expect similar pain to having an upper tooth extracted. There will be some soreness and swelling but you should only need a day or two to recover.
- Ridge expansion: The pain from this procedure is comparable to what you would experience from having a lower wisdom tooth removed because bone must be cut. You may have pain and swelling for several days. If you need ridge expansion for more than one tooth, the pain and swelling will cover a larger area so it may take longer to recover.
- Block graft: Recovery time depends on the amount of bone harvested and where it is taken from. If bone is taken from the jaw, the pain and recovery time is similar to having an impacted wisdom tooth removed – 1 to 2 days. If bone is taken from the hip, you can expect the pain and recovery time to be greater, up to 4 or 5 days.
At North Tarrant Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery, we maintain a state-of-the-art oral surgical facility where you can feel safe in a comfortable environment. Please contact us for a consultation today at (817) 237-7557.
Consultations are also available in Spanish.