Dental implants are are by far the most lifelike replacement for missing teeth in terms of appearance, feel and function. However, they are also the most invasive option, requiring surgery — and sometimes, they also require supplementary procedures, such as bone grafts.
What is a dental implant?
A dental implants is a tiny titanium rod that is surgically implanted into your jawbone, replacing the root of a missing tooth. It is finished with with a dental crown to create a natural looking tooth that functions and feels just like a natural tooth.
And what is a bone graft?
A bone graft is a surgical procedure whereby bone material (either from your body, or an artificial source) is grafted onto the bone in another part of the body. It is essentially a bone transplant, and it is usually done 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?
In some cases, the available jaw bone is either not thick enough, or hard enough, to support a dental implant. This happens when bone material has deteriorated during the time that the patient has lived with a missing tooth (or missing teeth). Or, it could just be that the patient has a small jaw.
A bone graft creates a stronger jaw, making for 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, which 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.