Older woman sitting in a dentists chair looking at herself in a handheld mirror & smiling as the dentist sits beside her.

Bone Grafting for Dental Implants: What You Should Know

Scott Dental Implants

If you’ve been missing teeth for some time or you have periodontitis, you may have been told that you need bone grafting prior to dental implant surgery. This is because when teeth are lost, the bone structure that supports them begins to break down. Without a strong support for dental implants, placement is difficult and implants are at high risk of failure. By performing a simple bone grafting procedure first, the jawbone can be restored so it can support dental implants.

Why Bone Grafts Are Needed

The jawbone gets constant stimulation from the roots of the teeth. Every time we bite and chew, the teeth and jawbone interact. When teeth are extracted or fall out, the jawbone no longer gets that stimulation from the roots. This sends a signal that bone is not needed to support teeth anymore; in a process called resorption, the body begins to break down the bone in order to transport its minerals to other parts of the body where they are needed. The results of resorption are a weakened jaw and facial collapse, which causes a prematurely aged appearance. 

Periodontal disease can also cause bone resorption. When gum disease advances untreated, the infection spreads to the bone and tissue surrounding the roots of the teeth. This supporting structure begins to break down over time due to the infection. If you have gum disease, you will need to have it treated prior to dental implant surgery and you will also need bone grafting to replace any weakened areas of the jaw.

What Happens During a Bone Grafting Procedure

Whether bone loss is due to missing teeth or periodontal disease, grafts can be used to restore the strength of the jawbone. Bone grafts are often harvested from your own body, usually from the hip or the back of the jaw where it will not be missed. When this is not possible, synthetic bone grafting material may be used, or bone from donors or cows. Bone grafts come in the form of gel, granules, putty, or powder.

The bone grafting procedure begins with a small incision in the gum tissue near the area where the bone needs to be augmented. The graft is transplanted to your jawbone through this incision to encourage your body to grow new bone where it is needed. Eventually, your own bone and the graft will fuse together and create a stable base to anchor your dental implants.

The full process of bone regeneration takes up to several months. You will not be able to have dental implant surgery until the process is complete; for the success of your implants, it’s critical that we wait to ensure that you have sufficient density in the jawbone to support implants. Without this support, the implants can begin to rock, shift, or even fall out of your mouth.

In the hours and days after your bone grafting procedure, it’s not uncommon to experience minor discomfort in the area where we worked. Use cold compresses and over-the-counter pain relievers to manage pain, swelling, and inflammation.

Learn More About Bone Grafting

Do you have questions about bone grafting prior to dental implant surgery? Contact us today at 505-821-2111 to schedule an appointment for a consultation.