Those who want to fill in a gap in their smile have several choices. Implants are often the first choice for those who want an attractive but natural-looking smile that is as worry-free as it gets. Some who want implants may have to have a minor medical procedure before they can benefit. A bone graft sounds serious, but it is not that big of a deal. Read on to find out why.
Why Bone Grafts Are Needed
Dental implants are meant to be a long-term solution, so the implant post has to be sunk deep into your jawbone to make that possible. Unfortunately, a number of problems can cause the bones in your jaw area to be weak. Age, medication, medical conditions, gum disease, and more can cause bone loss. Ironically, one of the chief causes of bone loss is missing teeth. When your jawbone gets the message that there are fewer teeth to support, the bone begins to fall apart. Fortunately, once your jawbone again senses the presence of a tooth that needs support after the implant is in place, bone loss is put to a stop. Before you can plan for an implant, your dentist will evaluate the density of your jawbone using an X-ray.
What To Know About Bone Grafts
Bone grafts replace missing bone and make your jaws once again strong enough to support teeth. Without a bone graft, an implant won't be stable, and that means a gradual loosening and then total failure. Bone grafts are made of a variety of material, but three methods are used often:
- Allografts: This method uses donated bone material that the body readily accepts as its own. The bones from donors go through extensive processing to assure safety. That means cleaning, demineralizing, sanitizing, and being freeze-dried. If you are reluctant to use bones from others, you can use your material from your own bones with autologous grafting.
- Autologous: This involves a process in which a small amount of bone tissue is removed from your jaw and cheek area (don't worry, the removal won't make a noticeable change in your appearance). Your bone tissue is implanted in the areas of the jaw that need support.
- Animal: The third common choice is using animal bone material. The grafting material is processed very much like that of the allograft and is safe and usually successful.
Discuss the above choices with your dentist so that you can shore up your jaw to ready it for implants.