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What are Dental Bone Grafts?

It is important to maintain good oral health, as it has an impact on overall well-being. In some cases, dental problems need surgical treatment, such as dental bone grafting, to restore the function and aesthetics of the mouth.

Although bone grafting is a common procedure, many patients have questions about how it works. What exactly are dental bone grafts? What does the dental bone grafting procedure involve? How long does it take to heal?

In this guide, our Montreal dentists present everything you need to know about dental bone grafting!

What is a dental bone graft?

Dental bone grafting is a specialized surgical procedure designed to restore the bone structure of the jaw, which may have been lost due to disease, trauma or prolonged missing teeth.

The procedure involves adding bone, or bone substitute material, to the jaw area. This grafted material may be taken from another part of the patient’s body (autograft), or it may come from human donors (allograft), animal sources (xenograft) or even be synthesized in a lab.

The main purpose of a dental bone graft is to provide solid, stable support for dental implants. It also aims to restore the appearance of the face, as bone loss in the jaw can cause the face to sag or become hollow.

For more information, make an appointment as soon as possible with a dental bone graft specialist. By taking action, you can avoid developing gum disease and many other complications.

What types of grafts are used?

There are a few different types of grafts that can be used in bone grafting. Your dental specialist will select the option that is most appropriate for your situation.

Autografts (or autologous bone grafts)

This type of bone graft comes from the patient’s own body. It is generally taken from the lower jaw, but can also come from the chin or another part of the body. While autografting comes with very little risk of rejection, the operation is long and requires two separate surgical sites.

Allografts (or allogneic bone grafts)

With allografting, the bone used comes from a deceased human donor. This approach avoids the need for additional surgery on the patient to harvest the bone.

However, it does carry a small risk of disease transmission and a possible immunological reaction.

Xenotransplantation (or xenogenic bone grafts)

Xenografts use bone of animal origin, most often bovine. The main advantage of xenogenic dental bone grafts is that the bone is readily available, avoiding the need for harvesting surgery.

Nevertheless, there is a minimal risk of transmitting animal diseases, and some people may have ethical or religious concerns about this method.

Synthetic bone substitutes (dental biomaterials)

Dental biomaterials are grafts that come from other sources. Their advantages include a faster grafting procedure and a single surgical site. Furthermore, biomaterials are available in large quantities, which is not the case when it comes to autografting.

The grafting procedure

The dental bone grafting procedure varies based on the type of graft used. The steps differ depending on whether the graft is taken directly from the patient’s own body or a biomaterial is used.

A safe, controlled operation

The dental bone graft procedure generally begins with the administration of a local anesthetic to numb the area, ensuring patient comfort. Once the area is anesthetized, the surgeon makes an incision into the gum to access the underlying bone. If the bone is to be harvested from another area of the patient, a second incision site is prepared.

The grafting material, whether taken from the patient or from another source, is then positioned where the bone is needed. In some cases, screws or biodegradable membranes can be used to hold the graft in place.

Finally, the gum is closed with stitches, which are often absorbable, meaning that they will dissolve on their own over time. Follow-up visits will be needed to make sure that the graft is healing well and any pain is properly managed.

Length of the procedure

The exact duration of the dental bone grafting procedure can vary depending on the complexity of the situation and the source of the grafted bone. In general, the procedure takes between one and two hours.

Dental bone graft healing time

The exact healing time for dental bone graft surgery will depend on the nature and extent of the graft, as well as on the individual. Generally, the initial healing phase, which involves the healing and closing of the gums, usually takes between 15 days and 3 weeks.

Bone consolidation, i.e. the actual fusion of the grafted bone with the existing bone, is a longer process. Depending on the size and type of graft, this can take between 4 and 6 months.

It’s very important that you follow the post-operative instructions provided by your dentist.

Factors that can influence healing time

  • Patient’s general health: Healthy individuals without underlying conditions can heal faster.
  • Oral hygiene: Good oral hygiene can prevent infections and promote faster healing.
  • Graft size and type: Smaller grafts can heal faster than larger ones, and the source of the bone can also influence healing time.
  • Smoking and alcohol consumption: These two factors can significantly delay healing. If you are a smoker, you should stop smoking one month before the surgery and continue to refrain from smoking one month after the operation, as smoking complicates healing and prohibits any surgery.
  • Patient’s age: Healing capacity can diminish with age.

Post-operative advice: what to eat after a dental bone graft?

After surgery, you will need to pay special attention to your diet, not only to promote healing, but also to avoid any discomfort or complications.

Recommended foods during the recovery period

  • Soft foods: Purées, compotes, yoghurts, custards and puddings are excellent, as they don’t require much chewing and therefore minimize pressure on the operated area.
  • Cooked cereals: Porridge or semolina, well cooked until soft, can be good choices for breakfast.
  • Broths and soups: Make sure they are well blended, with no large lumps, and served warm rather than hot.
  • Tender proteins: Poached fish, and scrambled or boiled eggs, are excellent sources of protein that are not too hard to chew.
  • Dairy products: These are a valuable source of calcium, which is beneficial for bone healing. Milk, soft cheese and cottage cheese are recommended.

Foods to avoid

  • Crunchy or hard foods: Avoid nuts, seeds, chips or any food that could exert pressure on the grafted area or get stuck in the wound.
  • Hot foods: Immediately after surgery, avoid very hot foods and beverages, as they could aggravate inflammation.
  • Acidic or spicy foods: These may irritate the wound.
  • Alcohol: This can delay the healing process and interact negatively with prescribed medications.

Need a dental bone graft? Contact the professionals at Clinique Dentaire 1935!

Dental bone grafts can become more complicated the longer patients wait to make an appointment with a professional.

If you are missing one or more teeth and have been putting off contacting a dentist that specializes in bone grafting, don’t wait!

The professionals at Clinique Dentaire 1935 will handle your case with care and schedule your procedure as soon as possible.

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