Dental implants are a permanent replacement option for missing teeth that look and feel like natural teeth. They are also, however, the most invasive replacement option, and sometimes require supplementary procedures, including bone grafts.
What is a dental implant?
A dental implant is a tiny titanium rod that is surgically implanted into your jawbone. This rod replaces the root of a missing tooth, and is then capped with a dental crown to create a natural looking tooth that functions and feels like your real teeth.
And what is a bone graft?
A bone graft is a surgical procedure during which bone material from one part of the body (or synthetic bone material) is grafted onto the bone in another part of the body. In other words, a bone graft is essentially a bone transplant. Bone grafts are usually performed to fix bone that has been damaged by trauma, and in general to increase the volume of bone in a certain area.
Why might I need a bone graft for my dental implant?
Usually, a bone graft is needed to increase the bone material in the jaw before dental implant surgery, because the available jaw bone is simply not thick enough, or too soft, to support to a dental implant. This typically happens because bone material has deteriorated during the time the patient's tooth was missing. It could also be that the patient has a naturally small jaw bone that is not sufficient to support the implant.
A bone graft creates a solid foundation for a dental implant.
Depending on the condition of your jaw bone and the number of dental implants you need, you may need a substantial bone graft. This may take up to nine months to heal sufficiently for the implant to be placed. Or, you may only need a minor bone graft, which can actually be done in conjunction with the implant surgery.
Although dental implants are a great option for replacing missing teeth, they do require surgery. There should be some discussion with your dentist before you commit.