If you lost a tooth many years ago and are finally ready to have the tooth replaced, then you may want to start working with your dentist to have a dental implant placed in the mouth. If this is something you want, then it is wise to look into bone grafting first. Since your tooth loss, the bone ridge across the jaw has likely shrunk at least a small amount. This means there is not as much bone material to hold the dental implant root. A bone grafting procedure can thicken the ridge. If you do go through some bone grafting, then there are a few things you should expect.
Extra Healing Is Required
You may understand that dental implant operations take some time, especially when healing times are factored in. You typically will need to wait a few months after the implant is secured before the artificial tooth can be cemented to the root. If you decide to go through grafting, then this will extend the amount of time that it takes for you to heal. Specifically, you will need to heal for several months after the graft is placed. During the healing process, the jaw will create new bone cells that work their way around the grafted bone. This will cement the grafted bone in place.
Once the bone graft becomes part of the bone ridge through healing and new cell formation, the dental implant can be placed. However, if it is added more quickly, then the tissues of the bone graft can die. Also, the graft itself can break away from the jaw. Both of these things can cause complete dental implant failure. You should keep in mind that you will need to be patient if bone grafting needs to be completed.
You Will Need Another Surgery
Bone grafting means that you will need another invasive surgery on top of the dental implant operation. For some people, this can be quite stressful, so make sure that you understand the entire surgical process and what will happen during each procedure before committing to dental implantation. When it comes to bone grafting, a piece of bone may be taken from your own body. If this happens, then you will have two surgical sites.
In many cases the surgical area will be around the hip. Specifically, the very tip of the curved hip bone will be removed for grafting. While incisions are minimal, you will likely feel some pain around the hip as well as across the jaw.
If you are uncomfortable with the additional incision, you can speak with your dentist about the use of bovine or cadaver bone. This can minimize your stress during the added procedure.