What is a Dental Bone Graft?
When people lose teeth, the underlying jaw bone gets weak because it’s no longer in constant use. If this bone weakens enough, it cannot support a dental implant. The area where the implant will reside needs to be strengthened considerably.
Back in the old days (1980’s), dental bone grafts required using the patient’s own bone (and sometimes a skin graft was required). Nowadays, medical technology has progressed to the point where dentists now use processed bone that is harvested from animals (eg: cows). This method of a bone graft is used in most dental offices nowadays and is a tried and true method with predictable results.
The basic gist of a bone graft is that the animal bone is used a “placeholder” of sorts. It prevents the surrounding tissue or bone from collapsing. A process called “guided tissue regeneration” is used to fool your human body into thinking that the animal bone is actually native to your mouth. Over time your body absorbs the animal bone and replaces it with brand new bone!
Why Undergo Bone Graft Surgery?
If you’re planning on getting dental implants then your doctor might recommend that you get a bone graft prior. The reason being is that sometimes the human jaw is too weak or too thin to properly support an implant. If the implant were to be put in place without a bone graft, there is a very good chance it would fall out (at best) or cause major complications (at worst).
Types of Dental Bone Graft Surgery and Cost
There are 3 types of outpatient procedures for a dental bone graft:
- Subantral Graft (aka Sinus Life Procedure)
- Autogenous Ramus/Chin Graft
- Alveola Ridge Preservation Graft
If you are considering getting a Dental Bone Graft, your dentist will be able to choose which type of procedure best fits your needs.
Cost for this procedure will vary from dental office to dental office and depend in part on the conditions of the patient. For example, if the doctor uses cadaver, cow or synthetic bone, the cost can range anywhere from $250 to $1,000 for a single implant. If you choose to use your own bone, the cost can increase to $2,000 to $3,000 as hospitalization and anesthesia will be required along with two surgical sites. X-rays and other materials may not be included in the cost.
Alternatives to Bone Grafts
While dental implants may look great, they also have a very high cost. If you’re missing only one or two teeth, it might be worth it. But if cost becomes an issue, then you could consider a couple of alternatives.
A dental bridge is exactly as it sounds. You have an area where you are missing teeth in your mouth. A “bridge” of teeth is created which is anchored by a crown on either side. The crowns slide over the two teeth on the end and the entire apparatus functions like an actual bridge. The end result is that it looks like natural teeth.
Dentures are an old school way of getting teeth back in your mouth. They can cost as little as $300 to $2500. Generally speaking, they are only recommended as a temporary fix. There are higher end dentures that are available. These are supported by implants and the entire procedure can run as high as $24,000.
After the anesthesia from the surgery has worn off, you might feel a little bit of discomfort a few hours after the procedure. Your dentist will most likely prescribe (narcotic) pain pills or Ibuprofen to help with the pain. For best chances of success, be sure to take your pain meds as prescribed and at the designated times.
You might be given an antibiotic as well. This is routine and you should take it until the entire bottle is gone. This is one area where people tend to mess up. They feel better and stop taking the antibiotics and then complications sometimes arise. Always follow the instructions on the bottle of antibiotics and take them until they are gone.
You could experience some swelling as well. An ice pack will help.
We’ve compiled a more extensive guide to help with your dental bone graft recovery here.
It’s important to follow the after-care instructions your doctor gives you to ensure best chances as well as a quick recovery time from your procedure.
If you have more questions regarding Dental Bone Grafting, we’ve compiled a list of the most frequently asked questions related to dental bone grafting here.