Must Knows Before Bone Grafting And Dental Implant Surgery
While dental implant surgery is an outpatient procedure, it is often a very involved process that takes months to complete. When the jawbone itself is not thick enough or is too soft to support a dental implant, bone grafting is needed.
Why A Bone Graft Is Necessary
Bone grafting for a dental implant is done to build up or reinforce the jaw. This is normally done by using a small piece of the patient's own bone, either from another area of the jaw itself or from another area of the body. In some cases, a commercially made material is used for small bone grafts, but bone is normally the better choice for implants. In some cases, when only a slight amount of work must be done, the patient may have the bone grafted during their implant surgery. While it may seem like a great deal to go through, without a bone graft a weak jawbone could not support a dental implant.
The small piece of bone that is transplanted to the jawbone during a bone graft actually causes new bone to grow, but this does take time. In some cases it can take up to nine months for this process to occur. The bone is a fairly slow healing tissue, but allowing the jaw to heal properly is very important. When a person bites down or chews food, a great deal of pressure is placed on the jaw bone. After enough new bone is present, a dental implant can safely be placed. Often, an abutment is placed at the same time to avoid later procedures.
Osseointegration and Abutment Placement
After post placement, osseointegration must occur between the bone of the jaw and the new implant. This happens gradually, over a period of months, as the bone grows slightly and attaches to the dental implant, or post. Osseointegration provides a solid sturdy base for the patients new tooth. After this process is complete, the dentist may need to attach an abutment, if it was not done when the implant was placed. An abutment is a ridge of sorts, that the crown or fake tooth attaches to. Normally, a local anesthetic is sufficient for abutment placement. The abutment is slightly above the gums and can be seen when the patient opens their mouth, until the prosthetic tooth is placed.
Choosing Between Fixed or Removable Teeth
When the patient has healed from the bone graft and had post and abutment placement, there is normally a choice between fixed or removable prosthetic teeth. There are advantages and disadvantages to both types of teeth. Often, removable teeth are used when more than one tooth is needed. A metal plate is used to attach the teeth in a snap-like fashion. They can then be removed each day for cleaning. A fixed tooth is normally the choice when only one tooth is needed, or for multiple teeth if the cost is not excessive for the patient. Both types of dental implants look very natural.