While a periodontal or gum disease can cause the degradation of teeth and the surrounding bone, there are ways to restructure the jawbone using a bone graft. Accomplished through a minor surgical procedure, grafting is generally safe and uses a material that encourages the development of new bone cells. The graft material, while typically made from processed bone minerals, can be sourced from one of several places:
- Animal donor
- Human donor
- Synthetic material
- The patient’s body
Patients with periodontal disease may eventually notice the sagging of facial features because of bone loss. Grafting reduces the effect of sagging, and if used early on, it may eliminate any sign of facial sag. While grafting is mainly used to help people who suffer from periodontal disease, this type of dental surgery is beneficial in many situations for patients dealing with a wide array of issues.
Dental implants are another of the primary reasons for a bone graft. Implants require the insertion of a titanium post into the jawbone, which means that a healthy and dense bone is necessary for successful implantation. Therefore, if there is not enough volume or density, a dentist will likely recommend a graft to ensure proper placement.
While it may seem strange to discuss grafting in terms of tooth extractions, it is actually a common practice today. When a tooth is removed, a dentist may opt to fill the void with a grafting material, ensuring no bone loss. Filling with grafting material also makes receiving an implant later easier as the preparation work has already been completed.
Bone and tooth loss due to periodontal disease is a common reason for grafting procedures. While patients diagnosed with this disorder may fear future losses, grafting is a way to slow down the effects of the disease. When bone loss begins to cause the loosening of teeth, a grafting solution can be injected around the teeth to help strengthen and support them, essentially slowing the process.
A grafting procedure is safe and is typically an outpatient procedure lasting only an hour or two, depending on the patient. While oral or intravenous sedatives can be used to increase patient relaxation, a graft can usually be placed using only local anesthesia.
Once the area has been prepared, the dentist makes a small incision in the gum tissue to access the bone. Then, using a needle, the graft material is injected into the site.
While many patients may experience some soreness around the incision site, the pain can be treated with over-the-counter pain relievers or anti-inflammatory medications. It is also recommended that patients use ice therapy to reduce swelling. The pain should only last a day or two. After several months the body should essentially reverse the bone loss by replacing the graft with its own bone.
To prevent the loss of bone caused by periodontal disease, patients can discuss a bone graft with their dentist. This type of procedure is safe and has been proven effective at reversing and preventing the negative effects of gum disease.
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