Dentists are able to use a diversity of procedures to improve a person’s smile. In some instances, however, a patient may have experienced bone loss, which can make certain procedures difficult or impossible. In these instances, dentists will often recommend bone augmentation, which strengthens the jaw, so it can tolerate and support specific treatments.
What is Bone Augmentation?
Bone augmentation is the process of rebuilding jawbone, usually by grafting synthetic or natural bone to a patient’s jaw. Dentists typically recommend augmentation for patients who have experienced jaw bone damage from periodontal disease. They may also suggest augmentation to help promote bone formation following the extraction of a tooth, or to prepare a patient’s jaw for dental implants.
For dental implants to successfully take hold, a patient’s jaw must have healthy bone to provide support. If you have had periodontal disease, trauma or injury to your jaw or face, the strength and density of your bone may be compromised. You may also have insufficient bone density if you have worn dentures for many years or have left spaces empty following teeth extractions. This is because jaw bone tends to slowly recede once it no longer has a tooth to support.
Bone augmentation can help correct these issues, so your jaw will have enough solid bone to support dental implants.
How Does Bone Augmentation Work?
These days, bone grafting is typically a painless and minimally invasive treatment, which is routinely completed in a dental specialist’s office. In some instances, an oral surgeon or periodontist will perform bone augmentation at the same time as an extraction, since this promotes faster healing.
In virtually all other instances, the dental specialist will begin the augmentation process by numbing the target area with local anesthetic before making an incision in the gum tissue to reveal the bone. The surgeon then attaches bone graft material – which contains proteins and collagen – to the bone to promote growth. The area is then sutured to close the tissue.
Over time, bone growth will replace the graft material, which absorbs naturally into the body. The growth process can take a few weeks or a few months, depending on the condition of the existing bone and extent of the graft.
Certain factors can also impact the process. If you are donating your own bone for grafting, for instance, you may need to spend one or two nights in the hospital, depending on the site from which the bone is removed. After the procedure, you will be given antibiotics, pain medication and aftercare instructions to ensure a more comfortable recovery.
Why Might I Need This Procedure?
Dental professionals recommend augmentation when your jaw has become damaged due to periodontal disease, to encourage bone formation after you’ve had a tooth extracted, or to prepare your jaw for dental implants.
What is the Process Like?
The process depends on several factors, including whether you will be donating your own bone for the grafting procedure, and the size of the area or areas where the augmentation must take place. If you will be donating your own bone, you may have to spend a night or two in the hospital, depending on the site from which the bone is removed.
Once you’ve had the procedure, you’ll be provided with aftercare instructions, pain medication, and antibiotics. At Gentle Dental, our goal is to keep you comfortable during and after the procedure. Please talk to our staff if you have any concerns about pain control.
What About Costs?
The cost of bone augmentation can vary, depending on your location and specific needs. Your insurance plan may cover all or a portion of your procedure. Our staff is happy to explain costs, alternatives and payment options, including potential in-house discount plans and financing options for patients who qualify.
How Can I Book an Appointment?
Generally, your regular dentist or a dental specialist will refer you for a bone augmentation procedure. Bone augmentation specialists work in our neighborhood offices, allowing you flexibility and convenience when making an appointment. As always, evening and weekend hours are often available.