Traditional post-style dental implants rely on a certain level of bone density in order to remain viable and prevent failure due to the bite force stress placed on a patient's jaw. Bone graft procedures can be used in some situations to allow otherwise ineligible patients to undergo dental implant surgery. If bone grafts have been recommended to you for just such a reason, it's a good idea to get the facts before proceeding so that you know just what you can expect and how it will affect your implants.
Bone Grafts 101
Surgical grade bone graft material is simply a powder made from sterilized bone tissue. During the procedure, your surgeon will drill a series of holes into your jaw and pack the bone powder in and around your existing bone structure. Over time, the grafted material will bond with your existing bones and create a foundation your implant surgeon can work with.
Depending on the nature of your bone graft and the extent of the area being grafted onto, recovery can range between 6 and 12 months. The area around the graft will be particularly unstable for the duration of your recovery time. During the first month, you may need a dental bridge to take the place of an existing partial denture or until your dentist determines your graft is sufficiently stable for regular use of your denture to resume.
Be Aware of the Risks
As with any surgical procedure, there are risks associated with bone grafts, including swelling, infection and even rejection of the grafted material. Part of the reason for the extended recovery period is to ensure that the graft is fully integrated with your existing bone, and to reduce the chance that rejection will occur. That risk can be further reduced depending on the source of your bone graft material.
The use of cadaver or animal bone tissue is common practice, offering a less painful and lower cost alternative for some patients. Unfortunately, because it's not your bodily tissue, the risk of rejection or failure does climb as a result. You can elect to use your own bone tissue from your hip, jaw or shin, but this will require a separate procedure in order to harvest sufficient bone for the planned graft. The benefit being a lower likelihood of rejection, since it's still your genetic material being used.
Bone grafts aren't a standard component of all dental implant procedures, but they are one way which dentists can ensure your implants have the greatest chance at success. Educating yourself on their nature and what options you'll have will ensure that you can enter into a discussion about the procedure knowing what to expect. For more information, visit http://www.vbandk.com/ or a similar website.