What Is the Purpose of Bone Grafting?
The function of your jaw bone is to support teeth, so when a tooth is lost, the bone loses its function and tends to shrink over time. Most of this bone shrinkage occurs three to six months after a tooth is lost. This shrinkage can be minimized by carrying out a bone graft when the tooth is pulled, this is also known as socket preservation. However, in cases where a tooth has been missing for quite some time, the bone has already been lost, so new bone needs to be rebuilt in order to place a dental implant.
There Are Two Main Surgical Techniques for Bone Grafting
Bone Graft Options
All of the options are safe and provide good results; however, in cases where extensive grafting is required it is usually best to use your own bone as it has the best potential for bone growth.
Two Scenarios That Can Impact Bone Graft Timing
1. There is enough bone to place the dental implant, but the implant is not completely encased in bone. In this case you can carry out bone grafting at the same time that you place the implant. The benefit of this is that it reduces the overall treatment time until you get your tooth replaced.
2. There is not enough bone to secure the dental implant. In this case bone grafting is carried out and allowed to completely heal before placing the dental implant.
How Long Does It Take to Heal?
The healing time of bone grafts varies. The gums over top of the bone graft will heal rapidly (in 2-3 weeks); however, the bone takes longer to heal. Small bone grafts can heal in as little as three months where large bone grafts can take as long as nine months to completely heal.