When you lose your natural teeth, you also lose part of your jaw bone. The jaw will start to deteriorate once a tooth falls out because the bone is no longer stimulated. The bone requires this stimulation to remain alive and active. To prevent this from happening, you can replace your missing tooth with an implant. If your jaw bone has already deteriorated, an implant may not adequately fuse. In that case, you would need a bone graft to replace the missing bone. If you are in this position, the following information may be helpful:
Reasons for Jaw Bone Deterioration
A tooth is held in place by the jaw bone. Once a tooth leaves the gum, the bone starts breaking down. This is a natural process that will happen any time a tooth is no longer in contact with the nerves and blood flow in the jaw bone.
If you have not yet lost a tooth but still need to replace them with implants, you may have jaw bone loss if you suffer from gum disease. Gum disease is due to bacterial growth in the gum and around the teeth. There are small ligaments in the gums that connect the tooth and jaw bone. If the ligaments break down due to bacteria from gum disease, the tooth will fall out and the jaw bone will continue to deteriorate.
If you wear dentures, you could also suffer from bone loss in the jaw. The loss of teeth in the first place will cause deterioration, but the bone loss is exacerbated by the constant pressure of the dentures on the gum and bone.
What to Expect From a Bone Graft
Before you can get a bone graft, your dentist will check the overall health of your teeth and gums, while also assessing your jaw bone. The dentist will x-ray your jaw to determine how much bone you have lost. Once the condition of your jaw bone is determined, the dentist will talk about a treatment plan, which may include a bone graft.
On the day of the bone graft, the area will be numbed, and the doctor will create an incision in your gum until the bone can be seen. The dentist will clean the area and place bone grafting material in the area. The gum will then be stitched together.
You may experience some initial pain and swelling, but these side effects are normal and should go away within a few days. You will take antibiotics to keep infection away as well as pain relievers if you need them. Once your graft fully heals, you can then get dental implants.