Over time, the bone tissue surrounding one’s missing tooth can deteriorate, leaving insufficient bone left in the jaw to securely place dental implants. Bone grafting is a procedure that enables patients who may not otherwise be eligible for dental implants to regenerate bone tissue in their jawbone back to sufficient levels to allow the placement of dental implants. Not only do bone grafts restore the functionality and appearance of one’s jaw and facial structure, but the restored jawbone provides a foundation to support healthy, natural-looking prosthetic teeth.
Major bone grafting
Previous tooth extractions, periodontal (gum) disease, congenital defects, or other tooth and bone trauma can cause serious damage to dental implant root sites. Bone grafting repairs these damaged implant sites by regenerating bone and tissue around the affected site. The bone graft is taken either from the patient’s own jaw, hip or tibia bones or from a tissue bank and placed in deteriorated areas of the patient’s jawbone.
Sinus bone grafts are also sometimes used to repair bone in one’s posterior upper jaw. Your dentist may also suggest a supplementary procedure known as guided bone or tissue regeneration in which certain membranes dissolve beneath the gum-line and shield the bone graft to encourage proper bone regeneration.
Bone grafting procedures are typically performed in a hospital and require a brief stay.
Sinus life procedure
Roots from the upper teeth extend upwards and into the maxillary sinus cavity, which is located behind the cheeks. When upper teeth from one’s upper arch are removed, only a thin wall of bone is left to divide the maxillary sinus and the mouth. In order to securely place dental implants, the upper jawbone needs sufficient support to hold them in place. In order to build up enough bone support between the maxillary sinus and mouth, sinus grafts or sinus lift grafts may be performed by your dental implant surgeon before placing dental implants.
After the impaired teeth are removed, your dental surgeon will access the floor of your maxillary sinus through the void where your tooth root used to exist. The sinus membrane is lifted and the bone graft is then implanted into the sinus floor on the roof of the upper jaw. Once the bone has fully integrated into the patient’s jawbone, dental implants can be placed on the upper arch. Sinus grafting makes it possible for patients whose only option used to be wearing ill-fitting dentures to become eligible for more permanent, stable dental implants.
The recovery time for sinus lift procedures varies depending on the severity of the bone damage or sinus wall thickness. In cases where sufficient bone exists between the upper jaw ridge and maxillary sinus cavity, the sinus graft and dental implant placement can be performed at the same time. If the bone between the upper teeth and sinus is too fragile or thin, the bone graft must mature first over several months before dental implants can be placed.
In serious cases, the jawbone ridge is not wide or high enough to support dental implants. In this case, a technique known as a ridge expansion is utilized to increase the dimension of the diminished bone. Ridge expansions are a type of bone grafting technique that involves mechanically splitting the jawbone using surgical instruments before implanting the bone grafting material. The bone graft must mature over several months before the ridge is supportive enough to place dental implants.
In some cases, repositioning of the inferior alveolar nerve – the nerve that provides sensation to the lower lip and chin – may need to be performed in order to free up space for the placement of dental implants in the back of the lower jaw. When nerve repositioning is required, the outer section of the cheek on the lower jawbone is removed in order to reach the nerve and vessel canal. The nerve bundle is gently pushed aside before the dental implants are placed into the jawbone. Once the dental implant procedure is completed, the nerve bundle is placed back over the implants and the bone grafting begins.
Bone grafting procedures, like the ones discussed above are performed under IV sedation or general anesthesia. Downtime is typically brief with bed rest recommended for 24 hours after discharge and limited physical activity suggested for one week following your surgery.
If you aren’t sure if dental implants can work for you, contact our office to learn more about the different bone grafting techniques available at our office that can help set the stage for your new, beautiful prosthetics!