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Major and Minor Bone Grafting in San Diego

If you’re missing teeth due to extraction, injury, or congenital anomaly, you may be a good candidate for dental implants. Dental implants are replacement teeth that are surgically embedded in your jawbone, allowing them to look and function much like your natural teeth.

A strong foundation of bone is required to ensure the stability and longevity of a dental implant. If your jawbone is too thin or too soft to support an implant, you may need bone grafting before you can undergo implant surgery.

Why You May Need Bone Grafting

The presence of our teeth is what keeps our jawbone strong and healthy. Chewing exerts pressure on the alveolar bone that supports our teeth, which stimulates bone tissue and helps retain mass. When we lose our teeth for any reason, the jawbone no longer receives this necessary stimulus and begins to deteriorate in a process known as resorption.

Dental implants can provide the stimulation necessary to prevent jawbone atrophy. However, before an implant can be placed, it needs a solid existing foundation of bone to properly brace it. Bone grafting is a common procedure that helps to restore bone mass, providing a secure base for dental implants.

Major and Minor Bone Grafting

The type of bone grafting treatment you receive will depend on the condition of your jawbone. For individuals with significant bone loss or defects of the jaw due to trauma, a major bone graft may need to be performed. This often involves extracting bone tissue from another part of your body, such as your skull, hip, or leg and requires a hospital stay.

More commonly, bone grafting for dental implants is a minor surgical procedure that can be performed during an office visit. There are different types of minor bone grafting treatments, including:

1. The Socket Graft

When a tooth is extracted, the body will quickly resorb the surrounding alveolar jawbone unless it is quickly replaced with a dental implant or a socket graft. Sometimes, an implant can be placed immediately. But in cases of lingering infection or size variance, a socket graft can be placed instead. Also known as a “ridge preservation graft,” it consists of natural bone material and is applied to the empty space left behind by the extraction. The socket graft generally heals within three to six months, at which time it is ready for a dental implant.

2. The Block Bone Graft

Extractions that are not immediately treated with a socket graft may lead to more significant cases of bone loss. Additional causes of severe jawbone loss include periodontal disease, trauma, or injury. In these cases, a block bone graft can be used to rebuild the structure of the jaw. In this procedure, a small piece of bone tissue is removed from the chin or the back of the lower jaw, transferred to the affected area, and secured with screws. Newer methods of block bone grafting do not require your own bone but include the use of a cadaver or donor block bone graft. After several months, the graft fuses to the underlying alveolar bone, and dental implant surgery may proceed.

3. The Sinus Lift Procedure

Placing an implant in your upper molars can be complicated due to their proximity to your maxillary sinus. In this location, there is often very little bone separating your sinus cavity from your mouth, so before an implant can be placed, a sinus lift procedure may be needed. A sinus lift shifts the location of your maxillary sinus slightly upward, before bone tissue is implanted in the space above your jaw. Occasionally, the dental implant can be placed immediately following the sinus lift, but if the natural bone is particularly thin, a period of healing may be required first.

What to Expect from Bone Grafting Treatment

While the idea of bone grafting may sound intimidating, most bone grafting procedures for dental implants are outpatient and can be performed in the comfort of Dr. Kwok’s office. With a board-certified and highly skilled periodontist overseeing your surgery and recovery, you can feel safe knowing that you’re receiving excellent care – and in the end, you’ll enjoy a healthy, strong, and beautiful smile.

Call us at (619) 543-0905 for more information on bone grafting and dental implants.