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When Are Bone Grafts Necessary for Dental Implants?

By Dr. Dan Whiting on May 09, 2016

An illustration of a bone graft and a dental implantDental implants offer a permanent solution for missing teeth. If you have missing teeth, you may be considering dental implant treatment. However, if you have lived with tooth loss for many years, you may require a bone graft before dental implants can be placed. Drs. Joe McIntyre and Dan Whiting conduct thorough exams to determine if patients are good candidates for dental implants. To find out if bone grafts and dental implants are right for you, schedule a consultation with our Harrisonburg, VA dentists.

Why Do Some Patients Require a Bone Graft?

When the teeth are missing for an extended period of time, the jawbone may begin to atrophy, or dissolve, causing the jawbone to become thin or soften. If the jawbone has atrophied to a high degree, it won't be able to support a dental implant, resulting in implant failure. In order to ensure successful dental implant treatment, a bone graft may be performed to rebuild the jawbone and create a stronger base for the dental implant.

The Bone Graft and Dental Implant Procedure

The bone graft procedure is performed by removing a small piece of bone from another part of the body, like the hip, or using a synthetic material to rebuild the jawbone. The bone or synthetic material is surgically attached to the jawbone by making an incision through the gum tissue. Once the bone graft is complete, the bone will need to heal, which may take three to nine months, before dental implant surgery can begin.

Once the bone graft has been sufficiently incorporated with the surrounding jawbone tissue, the dental implant can be placed. During dental implant surgery, a small incision is made through the gums and a small hole is drilled into the jawbone; the dental implant is then placed. An abutment, the attachment used to secure the dental restoration in place, may be placed now or after the implant has fused within the jaw. Once the implant and jawbone have bonded, a process called osseointegration, the desired restoration, either a dental crown, denture, or bridge, can be placed to complete treatment.

Do Bone Grafts Impact the Dental Implant Treatment Timeline?

Yes. Bone grafts can add a significant amount of time to the dental implant treatment timeline. Depending on personal healing times, bone grafts can take three to nine months to fully integrate with the surrounding bone tissue before an implant can be placed.

Although bone grafts can add more time to the dental implant process, the long-term benefits of dental implant treatment make the wait well worth it. Dental implants allow for the permanent replacement of a missing tooth’s root, allowing those who suffer from tooth loss to enjoy their favorite foods and smile with confidence.

Learn More about Your Treatment Options

To learn more about dental implants or other treatment options to improve the look and function of your smile, we encourage you to schedule a consultation with one of our dentists today.

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