What is a Dental Bone Graft?

“As a dentist, when you mention a dental bone graft to a patient it tends to scare people” says Dr. Adrienne Hedrick.  “However, a bone graft is one of the easiest and most simple dental procedures.” In fact, Dr. Hedrick has performed hundreds of these procedures and typically does at least one per week.  If you would like to learn more about why bone grafts are necessary in dentistry, then this post is for you.

What is Bone Grafting?

Bone grafting, also known as bone augmentation, is a surgical procedure that uses transplanted bone to replace missing or damaged bone in your body.  Many different types of doctors can perform bone grafts.  When it comes to replacing bone in your mouth this procedure can be performed by dentists.

When thinking of a bone graft, most people assume that a hard bone will be placed in their mouth.  However, the bone we place is in a different form, and your body will turn it into the typical hard bone structure.

The bone that we use for grafts looks like wet sawdust.  Dr. Hedrick will put it in a socket and the body will consume the foreign bone cells and lay down its own.  The bone tissue that we place is like scaffolding for the body building its own bone.  It pretty much tells the body where to build its own bone.

What are Dental Bone Grafts Made From?

Although there are many materials for bone grafts, at Longmont Dental Loft we use either cadaver/cow bone combination or lab grown bone for our bone grafts.  The type we use depends on the individual patient.

Combination of Cadaver Bone and Cow Bone

When it comes to using natural bone tissue, we always use a combination of cadaver and cow bone.  Both types have advantages and when you combine them you end up with the best of both worlds

Lab Created Bone

We use this if we’re not going to place a dental implant in it as it takes too long to become dense enough to hold an implant.  Instead we use it when we need replacement bone and there will be a bridge above this area.

When are Bone Grafts Needed in Dentistry?

Typically, bone grafts are needed either before getting a dental implant or when teeth are extracted.

Bone Graft for Dental Implant

It is common in dentistry to get a bone graft whenever getting a dental implant. Since the bone graft is needed for support, Dr. Hedrick recommends this as well. After the bone graft is complete, you will need to wait 3-4 months for it to heal before getting the implant placed.

Bone Graft when Teeth are Extracted

Whenever a tooth is extracted, there will be a hole where the root previously was.  Without a bone graft the patient will end up with defects, the soft tissue won’t heal properly, and bone loss will occur.    Not only will there be bone loss, but it can also cause periodontal disease.  Therefore, it’s important to fill the hole after an extraction to prevent the bone from deteriorating.

Types of Bone Graft Procedures in Dentistry

At Longmont Dental Loft Dr. Hedrick performs two types of bone grafts: socket grafts and sinus bumps.

Socket Graft

As the name implies, this uses a bone graft to fill the socket, or hole from an extracted tooth.  With this method, the socket will be filled in with bone tissue and will then heal into a solid mass of bone.

Sinus Bump

The sinus bump is like a sinus lift procedure, however it’s not as invasive.  Just like with the sinus lift, it’s required when an implant is needed on the upper jaw and more bone is needed so the implant doesn’t penetrate the sinus.

The sinus bump procedure can lift the bone up to 4mm.  After this is bumped, the implant can be placed immediately without waiting for the gum tissue to heal.

Are Dental Bone Grafts Painful?

Although the thought of having a bone graft sounds painful, it’s generally a comfortable procedure to have performed.  When getting a bone graft, you will be already numb and the procedure does not require many (if any surgical cuts), instead it mostly involves filling an area with bone tissue.

What is the Bone Graft Healing Process?

After the bone graft is complete, Dr. Hedrick will put a collagen membrane on the top. This will act as a band aid and protect the area where the surgery was performed.  After 7-10 days you will come into our office and we will remove the sutures.  However, even after the sutures are removed you will still be protected by the membrane.  It will last over a month and will dissolve on its own.

If you’re getting an implant in the bone, you will come back to our office in 3-4 months.  At this time Dr. Hedrick will take a 3D image of your mouth using our CBCT to determine if the bone healed properly.

Why Get a Bone Graft at Longmont Dental Loft?

As mentioned, Dr. Hedrick has performed over 100 bone grafts with excellent results.  You can be sure that she will take the time to educate you about the procedure and all your options.  And finally, our office is loaded with technology such as a CBCT which makes the process easier for you and increases the quality of the results.  If you would like more information on how we can help you with bone grafts, please contact our office at 303-772-6333 as we would be happy to speak with you.