Bone Grafting for Dental Implants: All Your Questions Answered

Dental implants are, for good reason, a popular alternative to replacing your missing teeth with bridges or dentures. Part of their appeal is their amazingly natural appearance. Whether you’re replacing one or all your teeth, you may forget they aren’t the ones you grew on your own back in elementary school.

No popping implants in and out for cleaning. You care for them about the same way you would your natural teeth with brushing, flossing, and routine dental checkups.

With dental implants, you won’t have to worry about the slipping and sliding you sometimes get with dentures. Or, if you prefer dentures to a full set of implants, your implant specialist can use a few or four to help keep your removable dentures in place.

So, now that you’re psyched about dental implants, what’s the downside? Sometimes you don’t have enough bone in your jaw to hold the implant. Bone grafting can fix that, and it’s truly not as intense as it may sound.

At SmileBoutique, located in the heart of Mount Vernon, New York, highly-regarded dentist Wayne Hofflich, is an expert in providing dental implants, which sometimes entail bone grafting. You’ll need a full evaluation at the office before we can make specific recommendations for you, but here are a few facts to get you started.

Dental implants and your jaw

Your dental implant base is constructed from titanium, a strong biocompatible alloy that gets along well with bone. We anchor this titanium base directly into your jaw, where it acts as a “root” for a porcelain crown. That’s the visible portion of your new tooth that we’ll eventually attach to the titanium root.

When your teeth are natural, the bone in your jaw bonds with tooth roots to hold them in place and keep your teeth from shifting. Whenever you chew, your natural teeth and roots stimulate the bony tissue in your jaw to grow so it remains healthy and strong. It’s a lot like what exercise does for your muscles.

This ongoing growth of your bone is called remodeling. Your jaw goes through the same remodeling process with a titanium root, which means your dental implants can become as secure as your natural teeth and keep your jawbone healthy and strong.

The need for a secure foundation

We need a strong bony foundation in which to anchor the titanium roots for your new teeth. This includes good bone width, height, and density. Some jaws don’t have enough bone. This may be due to several factors but is often related to missing teeth.

If your jawbone goes without the stimulation or “exercise” provided by natural teeth for even a short time, the bony tissue fails to remodel and essentially melts away (resorbs). We can kind of compare that to muscles that become flaccid and weak without exercise.

Because bridges and dentures ride on the surface of your gums, they don’t provide the stimulation your jaw requires for remodeling. This can leave you with less bone than a dental implant requires.   

Growing bone with a graft

Bone grafting is used to build up new bone and encourage ongoing growth in the jaw area where your dental implant will reside. It’s considered a minor surgical procedure that we perform here at the SmileBoutique office.

Every case is different and yours may vary slightly; generally, however, after we numb the targeted area and make a small incision in your gum line to expose the underlying bone, we then apply the grafting material to the existing bone and wait for it to do its job. Pretty simple. 

The grafting material contains processed bone and other components that form a framework around which your body will deposit new bone cells. The material is eventually absorbed by your body and replaced with your own new bone. It can take several months before your bone is strong enough for implants, but most of our patients find the results are well worth the wait.

Because of the incision, you can expect a little soreness once the anesthetic wears off following the procedure. However, the discomfort is generally about the same, sometimes much less, than what you’d experience with other dental procedures.  

If you want to know more about what dental implants can do for your smile, schedule an evaluation with Dr. Hofflich by calling (914) 664-7400, or using this online request feature.

 

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