What is a dental bone graft?
A dental bone graft is a procedure performed to increase the amount of bone in a part of the jaw where bone has been lost, or where additional support is needed. This may be needed when other procedures, such as dental implants, are necessary and the bone is not sufficient, or if tooth and gum health is deteriorating in the area due to loss of bone.
In some cases bone will be taken from elsewhere in the body, or it is possible that synthetic material may be used.
Such procedures may differ in regards to the methods used, but they all have one main similarity: A dentist or oral surgeon makes an incision in the jaw and grafts (attaches) other bone material to the jaw.
A dental bone graft is usually performed when a person has lost one or more adult teeth or suffers from severe gum disease. Both of these conditions can cause bone loss in the jaw.
The preferred approach for dental bone grafting is to use your own bone from the hip, tibia, or back of the jaw. This is known as an autograft. Autografts are usually the “gold standard,” since they increase bony support in the jaw and promote faster healing and new bone formation.
How painful is a dental bone graft?
A dental bone graft, which does not require a patient’s own material, is generally a relatively minor procedure.
You’ll be asleep during the procedure, so you will not feel any pain until after anesthesia wears off. Afterward, the pain is usually manageable with over-the-counter pain relievers for up to a few days.
Prescription pain medications may also be appropriate in some cases. But if bone material is obtained from your own body, the recovery can be more painful, as surgery is done in two locations — for example, your hip and your jaw.
How do I prepare for a dental bone graft?
You don’t need to do much to prepare for a dental bone graft.
Here’s a quick checklist of what to do before the procedure:
- Avoid eating or drinking anything 8 to 12 hours before the procedure, depending on the type of anesthesia you’ll receive.
- Make sure your doctor knows the medications you use regularly, especially blood thinners, which raise the risk of bleeding complications during surgery.
- Make arrangements to be driven home afterward, as you’ll be groggy after the procedure and unable to drive.