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The actual bone grafting procedure is much more straightforward than you might think. Bone grafting will only take place after your dentist has assessed the quality and quantity of the bone in your jaw and found that there is not enough to continue with a dental implant. Next your dentist will discuss the different types of bone graft with you and decide which will be the most suitable for you.
Once this has been decided the bone graft can be performed. For this, the dentist will cut the gum at the site of the bone graft and create a flap of skin. When the jaw bone is exposed the dentist will place the bone to be grafted onto the site and cover it with a protective membrane. This membrane is used to protect the bone from any microbiota (germs) found in the mouth and ensure that the area is perfectly clean to encourage the healing process. Finally, the flap of gum is replaced and stitched carefully back into place. Healing time for a bone graft can vary from patient to patient but on average it is around 4 months. Patients are also given a course of antibiotics to take in the days following their bone graft. Antibiotic mouthwashes are also prescribed to preserve the health of the gum covering the bone graft.
Dentists can check on the success of the bone graft by performing x-rays to determine the height and width of the new bone. Once this has been confirmed as satisfactory, and the site of the bone graft is totally healed, the next stage of the dental implant process can begin.
The success rate for bone grafts in the jaws for the purpose of placing dental implants is very high. However, there is always a chance that the bone graft will fail, even if your own bone was used. Bone grafts are not rejected like organ transplants. When they fail, it is usually because of an infection or because the grafted bone wasn’t stabilized and has come loose from your jaw. Dentists don’t know why some bone grafts fail, but they do know that certain people — such as those who smoke and those with certain medical conditions — have a higher risk of graft failure than others.
A failed graft will be removed. Once the area has healed, your dentist can place a second graft.