If you need to replace a missing teeth then there’s no denying the look, feel, and appeal of dental implants. These dental implants look just like teeth and work in much the same way. A proper implant is almost undetectable. You must understand the different aspects of any kind of oral surgery before having it performed however, and this applies to dental implants as well. Something to be aware of with dental implants is the potential need for a bone graft.
There are two pieces to dental implants; the metal cylinder placed in the jaw bone that acts as a root to the implant, and the abutment that is screwed into this “root”. The crown is placed on top of the abutment to create the appearance of teeth.
The American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons (AAOMS) suggest that the oral surgeon may discuss the need to have a bone graft if they believe that the jaw bone is too soft or thin to hold the dental implant in place. If the jaw bone is unable to support the implant then the surgery could fail.
There are a number of reasons that people could lack the jaw strength to hold their dental implants in place. This natural bone insufficiency may be caused by the following:
- Gum disease
- Teeth developing badly
- Long-term denture use
- Injury or trauma to the face
- Gaps left following the removal of teeth
- Dental procedures where the dentist didn’t make an effort to restore natural bone
There are several techniques for rebuilding bone, restoring natural jaw lines and smiles, and providing a strong foundation for the use of implant-supported teeth. Many patients go about their everyday lives and go back to work as early as the next day and go about as normal between dental appointments over the months.
Bone Augmentation Procedure
The first step of many cases of dental bone grafting is preparation. Patients typically have X-rays performed so dentists can inspect the jawbone. There may also be a need for a CT-scan, which is essentially a highly detailed 3-D X-ray. Next the surgeon decides on the bone grafting procedure that will work best for the individual patient.
The following are the most common bone augmentation procedures:
A bone graft is a safe procedure with a high success rate where bone is added to the jaw. There are four main sources of the bones used for dental bone grafts and augmentations:
There are many cases where bone from the patient is used in the grafting process after being extracted directly from the body. It is an effective and safe as the bone comes straight from the body of a patient. This means that the bone material has no trouble combining with the jawbone and there is rarely any tissue rejection.
The bone comes from the hips, jaws, chin, and from the knee. After the bone is extracted it is shaped in order to match the area of the jaw it will be placed. This is an expensive grafting choice as two separate procedures are needed. The bone is extracted first, and then grafted during a separate procedure.
Patient also have the option of sourcing grafting material from human cadavers. This is a common option for bone augmentation and there are several trusted tissue banks that supply the grafting material. The bone is commonly freeze-dried and sterilized to preserve it. Allografts are considered to be very safe and affordable for patients.
Bones sourced from animals such as cows are one of the most common bone augmentation materials in dental implants. Bones sourced from cows integrate well with human bones and cause very little – if any – complications. The cow bone is freeze-dried and processed like the bones from human cadavers. Of course, the animal bones are cleansed and sterilized carefully to ensure they are safe.
The fourth option is synthetic bone grafting material. This is a kind of material that is made from a mineral bone substitute. It has been shown to safely and effectively fuse with human bones without any issues.
The procedure can begin as soon as the material is chosen. Bone grafts will typically be performed in the office of the implant dentist under local anesthetic to numb the affected areas. Sometimes the dentist will use intravenous sedation to reduce anxiety in patients.
Patients are provided with pain medication, antibiotics, and antibacterial mouthwash when the procedure is over. They are also advised against certain foods and applying pressure to the graft. Patients stay at home between dentist appointments during the healing process and there should be nothing stopping them from going back to their regular lives.
Implants are placed after the grafted bone fuses and integrates into the existing bone nicely. How long this integration process takes can depend on the graft location and bone density. It could take up to three months and may take longer in some cases.
Sinus Lift – AKA Sinus Augmentation/Sinus Elevation
The most difficult teeth to replace and restore are those in the upper back part of the mouth. Missing back teeth causes the sinus cavity to expand as the natural bone deteriorates. A sinus lift, also known as a sinus augmentation or a sinus elevation is a kind of bone augmentation used with patients that lack the natural bone needed for a dental implant to be placed in the area. The procedure is where bone is added below the sinus in order to place implants. The procedure has no effect on speech or intonation, nor does it cause sinus problems.
The bone is left for between 4 and 12 months to develop properly before the dental implants procedure. Sinus augmentation, which is known to cause only minimal amounts of discomfort, is designed to ensure that implants last as long as possible, with sturdy bones that leave the implants looking and acting just like natural and healthy teeth.
If the jaw lacks the width to support a dental implant, then bone graft material is added to a small ridge along the upper part of the jaw. Sometimes an implant can be placed as soon as the ridge expansion is completed, but in several situations they must be left for between 4 and 12 months to ensure the ridge heals properly.
As is the case with every kind of bone grafting technique, ridge expansions ensure the new teeth have a strong foundation and will last for years to come. This procedure is also used to connect difficult-to-clean indentations that occur near missing teeth.
Bone Augmentation Recovery Period
Patients will need to wait several months after the graft process to give the graft time to create plenty of strong bone for the implant to be secured into. If you need just a minor graft there is a chance that the procedure can be completed as part of the implant surgery, but the final decision is up to the dental specialist. Successful bone grafts allow for the jaw bone to have the strength to support a dental implant.
After completing the graft, the implant surgery can move forward. As is the case with any form of surgical procedure, you must discuss personal medical history and all the risks and benefits of the surgery with the dental specialist. After the specialist decides you can proceed, you’ll be taking your first steps towards a beautiful new smile.
The Cost of Bone Grafts
Bone graft costs can vary depending on individual cases and the condition of the jawbone. With this said, simple bone grafts using sterilized bones from cadavers or animals costs roughly between $300 and $1,200 for a single area. This is also the cost of synthetic bone implants.
The cost of using bone material from the patient increases the cost of the procedure as it requires a stay in hospital. This kind of bone graft will also require the services of an orthodontic surgeon and an anesthesiologist, bringing the potential costs up to between $2,500 and $3,500.
These costs are only general estimates however, and there are a number of factors involved in determining the actual cost of the procedure. Patients must also consider their insurance policy and what is covered by it, such as bone grafts and dental implants. Each insurance provider has different rules as far as these procedures go.
There are also a number of additional costs to consider when planning for the cost of dental bone grafting. These costs include the costs of the X-rays and CT scans and other similar procedures. These procedures bring up the cost of the bone graft by an additional $250 – $1,000. It may be possible to get this service for free. Once again, consult your oral surgeon about your individual case and how much the procedure is likely to cost.