It may appear that your gums are holding onto your teeth. They are, but in a protective way. It’s your jawbone, however, that your teeth are anchored into, allowing them to do the work of grinding, chomping and biting food. Each one of your teeth has between one to three roots that extend into this bone. Taking good care of your teeth and gums is essential to keeping your jaw healthy and strong.
If you have lost one or more teeth, or have developed severe gum disease, it’s very possible that your jawbone has receded, or lost bone structure. This is especially true if you lose a tooth and then wait a long time to replace it with a dental implant. A lack of jawbone material may also result from an accident or genetic factors. Not only does missing jawbone put your surrounding teeth at risk and contribute to premature aging, it presents a problem when you decide to replace missing teeth with implants. No jawbone means no place to screw in the implants. What can be done about missing jawbone?
Bone grafting is the answer — a permanent answer — to jawbone loss. Now, if you just imagined getting your face implanted with the giant jawbone of a Neanderthal, you can erase that thought. In the vast majority of cases, a bone graft involves taking a very small amount of material, under pain-controlled conditions (you can even use sedation dentistry), opening up access to the jaw through the gums and inserting this small amount of material into your jaw. That’s it for bone grafting!
What happens after bone grafting? Your body does all the work! In the following months, your jawbone takes the newly inserted material and goes to work making it part of your jaw. Just as a broken arm or leg fuses over time, your jawbone fuses with the graft material and becomes stronger, able to accept the implant hardware that becomes a permanent fixture in your mouth.
What types of materials are used for grafting? An autograft takes bone from your own body and transfers it to your jawbone. Often the “donor area” is from another part of your jaw or mouth, allowing for quick and successful healing and regrowth.
An allograft uses donated bone material from another person (yes, a dead person). While this may seem a bit drastic, remember that we’re talking about a very small piece of bone material that has the power to keep your jaw healthy and strong. Donated grafting material is thoroughly sanitized so that it can be safely transferred from one person to another.
Moooving on — they say that happy cows come from California, and xenografts come from cows, making a very fine material for bone grafts in the jaw. If you eat steak and hamburger, this is just a more direct way of putting the cow into you, , and making it part of you, without digestion.
Finally, an alloplast uses synthetic materials to aid in jawbone regrowth. These substances are thoroughly tested and have been used for years without complications. When necessary, our Placerville dentists have full confidence in this artificial bone matter.
A bone graft can be completed during just one visit to the Placerville Dental Group. We are happy to discuss with you your options to make your smile as good-looking as possible during your healing period, including temporary dentures, bridges or Snap on Smile. Your diligence in maintaining good dental health is essential during this time, and our Placerville dentists are here to help. While a bone graft may sound like the last thing you would want to have done in your mouth, the success rates and advantages are too encouraging to dismiss. Come in for an appointment to discuss how to get your jawbone back! We are happy to give you as many details as you would like, or you can go with “the less I know the better” approach. In either case, you’ll get your jaw back in shape and your smile complete again, all thanks to the amazing procedure of jawbone grafting.