Replacement teeth supported by dental implants function so well and last so long because like natural teeth, they are securely anchored in the jawbone for maximum support. In order to benefit from this remarkable technology, however, you need to have enough tooth-supporting bone in your jaw to hold a dental implant in place. Unfortunately, after tooth loss, the surrounding bone almost always deteriorates — decreasing in width, height and density — and this process starts immediately. The longer a tooth has been missing, the more the bone that used to surround it resorbs (melts away). If you want a dental implant but don't have enough bone to support it, can anything be done? Yes. Very often you can still get the replacement tooth you want, thanks to routine bone grafting procedures.


How It Works

Bone grafting, normally a minor surgical procedure done in the dental office, is used to build up new bone in the area of your jaw that used to hold teeth. A small incision is made in your gum to expose the bone beneath it, and then grafting material is added. Most often, the grafting material is processed bone that serves as a scaffold around which your body will actually deposit new bone cells. The grafting material will eventually be absorbed by your body and replaced by your own new bone.


What to Expect

The procedure for placing a bone graft usually requires only local anesthesia to achieve a higher state of relaxation. Because a small incision in your gum tissue needs to be made to access the underlying bone that will receive the graft, you may experience some soreness in the area after the surgery; this can usually be managed by over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication and/or pain relievers, as well as ice therapy after the procedure. Though you will soon feel completely back to normal, it may take your body up to seven months for bone maturation to take place in order to receive your dental implant. The waiting time allows the healing process enough time to achieve the desired result: ideal support for replacement teeth that look great and will last a lifetime.