Did you know that bones stop growing in length after puberty? But if you think that means your bones stop changing after that, it’s not true. Your bone density and strength will change over the course of your life and could change in certain specific instances. This applies even for the bones in your teeth!
One example is after a tooth extraction/loss. When the tooth is extracted, the surrounding bone will begin to degenerate or “melt away”. If you lose too much of these bones, your facial structure will change and you could appear to look more haggard. To prevent this from happening, your dentist will recommend for you to get a dental bone graft alongside the dental implants to fill the gap between your teeth!
What is bone grafting?
It is a minor surgical procedure where an incision will be made to your gums to expose the bone beneath it. Grafting material is then added under the gum at the bone area to facilitate bone growth.
Why get a bone graft?
Success of Dental Implants :
Bone grafting is a dental procedure adopted when there is not enough jaw bone to complete a dental implant. The success of a dental implant depends on the strength and health of the bones surrounding the implant. Getting a bone graft can aid the regeneration of jaw bones to increase the likelihood of a successful dental implant.
Saving Teeth :
Severe periodontal disease (also known as gum disease) can also cause a significant reduction of bone density. This results in the loosening of teeth which is not ideal. Bone grafting will regenerate jaw bones and help develop a good bone support to maintain a beautiful smile.
Dental Bone Graft Material
There exist many types of bone grafting materials and some of their origin might shock you (just like how it shocked me).
- Allograft : Bone harvested from a human donor after they passed on.
Okay before you cringe at the sound of this, hear me out… The harvested bone is tested and sterilized thoroughly before use to ensure the safety of the patient. The allograft bone has no living cells so the risk of rejection is significantly lowered (although not zero).
- Autograft : Bone harvested from the actual patient (A.K.A you). The bone can be harvested from your hips, mouth or from other areas of your body.
The advantage of getting an autograft is that the rejection risk is close to 0% since it’s your own bone tissue. On the other hand, one disadvantage is that it requires 2 operations (one to extract the bone tissue, one for the actual bone grafting) and may expose the patient to common surgical risks.
- Xenograft : Bone harvested from animals such as pigs, cows and more.
Similarly, the bone tissue is thoroughly sterilized and treated so it is safe for use. Its disadvantage is that there still exists a slight risk of rejection.
- Alloplastic : Graft is fabricated using synthetic materials often containing calcium phosphate.
These alloplastic grafts, facilitate natural bone growth once absorbed by the body. There also exist other types of synthetic grafts that act as a platform for natural bones to grow on. Similar to the other grafts (except autograft), there is a small chance of rejection.
Is bone grafting painful?
Local anaesthesia will be administered to numb the area before any incision is made. This ensures that the patient does not feel any pain and is comfortable throughout the process.
Dental Bone Graft Recovery
While the bone grafting procedure is a straightforward one, the recovery process is one that may take quite some time. After the procedure, your dentist will prescribe the relevant antibiotics and painkillers to help facilitate your recovery process. Healing is expected to take at least 4 months as the bone needs time to grow.
Bone Graft Rejection
The success rates of dental bone grafts are pretty high and stand at above 84% on average (M Clementini, 2012). However, this suggests that there exists a slight chance of rejection. In the scenario where your bone graft fails, it needs to be removed and you can opt for a second graft.
Don’t worry about getting a bone graft!
The high success rate of bone grafting and the chance to get a second graft even if it fails should put your heart at ease before undergoing this procedure. So don’t worry!!
Here at Vivid Dental Surgeons, we aim to educate our patients on matters regarding oral hygiene and health. Especially amidst this COVID-19 period, we encourage everyone to stay safe and maintain good oral hygiene. Let’s all do our part in keeping the community and ourselves healthy.
If you liked this article, you can click here to read other oral health related articles posted on our blog. Additionally, if you have any questions regarding dental bone grafting or other oral health related matters, feel free to drop Dr Ryan a message here.
Dr Ryan and the Vivid Dental Team wishes everyone a pleasant and virus-free day ahead 🙂