In some cases, your dentist may tell you that you need a jaw bone graft. Have questions about this process and when it's necessary? Here's what you need to know.
Why Do People Lose Their Jaw Bones?
In some cases, you may have a congenital issue that makes you born without a jaw bone. In other cases, your jawbone may deteriorate over time. In particular, when you get teeth extracted from the back of your mouth, the jaw bone has nothing to do.
At that point, the body basically decides the bone is useless, and the bone naturally starts to deteriorate. In other cases, you may lose jaw bone due to cancerous tumors or advanced gum disease.
Why Should You Consider Jaw Bone Graft?
If you want to get dental implants, you may need a jaw bone graft. Implants get anchored to the jaw bone, and if there isn't adequate bone to hold the implants in place, you may need to add bone in that area. If your facial structure is impaired by missing jaw bone, you may also want to consider a graft.
Where Do You Get the Bone for a Jaw Bone Graft?
In some cases, you can get bone for the graft from a tissue bank. In other cases, it may work better to harvest the bone from another part of your body. The most popular areas for bone harvesting are from your hip bone or tibia which is in your lower leg. You may also be able to use some bone from your skull.
The advantage of going to a tissue bank is because you don't need to go through the harvesting process. However, when you use your own bone, there is less risk of rejection.
What Is the Bone Graft Process?
A jaw bone graft is a multiple step process. Generally, you start with a consultation with your dentist about why you need a bone graft. Then, you may get a CT scan of the area. This scan creates a cross sectional image of your jaw bone. With that, your dentist can help decide how the new bone graft needs to be positioned.
Once you and your dentist have decided upon the treatment path for you, you need to go to an oral surgeon or a hospital for the bone graft. If relevant, the bone gets harvested from part of your body. Then, that bone or some bone from a tissue bank gets placed in your jaw. Generally, it gets held in place with special tissue that dissolves over time as the bones ossify together.
What Happens After a Bone Graft?
After the bone graft, you may have to take some antibiotics to prevent infection and rejection. Make sure to take the whole course of antibiotics so they work properly. You may also need to take some over-the-counter pain killers. Ideally, you want to take ibuprofen. Aspirin and advil are blood thinners, and that is not helpful during the healing process.
You may also need to stick to a soft food diet while the bone heals. Additionally, your dentist may advise you to stay away from alcohol as that is also a blood thinner, and it can negatively interact with the antibiotics.
Then, once the grafted bone has fused with your existing bone, you can move forward with any other treatment you need. For instance, if you are getting implants for a crown or for snap-in dentures, you can move forward with that process.
To learn more about jaw bone grafts and similar procedures, contact your dentist. They can help you figure out what you need and advise you accordingly.