Dental implants replace missing teeth by fusing to the jawbone and anchoring the white, porcelain crowns that look like natural teeth. But what happens when there isn’t enough bone mass to anchor a dental implant? Patients who have had missing teeth for a while, especially those who smoke, are more likely to have insufficient bone mass. This conundrum is correctable with dental bone grafting , which allows patients in San Diego to have dental implant surgery, even if they weren’t initially considered good candidates for it.
Where will the bone graft come from?
In past years, surgeons took bone from elsewhere in the patient’s body to graft onto the jawbone. It’s called an autologous graft when the patient’s own bone is used. Now, surgeons prefer to use other bone graft material whenever possible. The most common choice is a xenograft of bovine or cow bone. The idea of receiving cow bone in the jaw might be a little off-putting, but patients can rest assured that the bone is only taken from cows proven to be healthy. Harvested bone goes through an exhaustive sterilization process. In the end, all that’s left is the mineral structure of the bone material.
What’s a sinus lift?
Unique challenges are associated with the placement of dental implants in various parts of the upper and lower jaws. The maxillary sinus is a very close neighbor of the maxilla, which is the upper jaw. Only a thin strip of bone separates the sinus cavity from the tooth roots. Because of this, patients who lose a tooth in this area generally must undergo a sinus lift before getting a dental implant. This procedure builds up the bone mass so that it can safely support the implant post. During a sinus lift, the surgeon lifts the sinus membrane to place the bone graft right into the floor of the sinus.
What will the recovery be like?
Patients should always follow the instructions their surgeons give them, as they can differ from patient to patient. In general, patients are advised to avoid strenuous activity for two to three days after having a bone graft. Swelling is normal. Patients can apply ice packs for 20 minutes at a time during the first 48 hours to minimize the swelling. The surgeon can prescribe pain medication to keep the patient comfortable and antibiotics to prevent infections.