For those who are missing one or more teeth, the cosmetic effect of a dental implant is almost unbeatable. Dental implants look and function the same as a regular tooth, and a successful implant is just about undetectable. It is always important, however, to make sure that you understand all the various aspects of an oral surgery, and dental implants are no different. One of the main things to be aware of is the possibility of needing a bone graft for dental implants.
A dental implant basically has two pieces: a metal cylinder that is placed into the jaw bone and functions like the root of the tooth, and an abutment that screws into the first piece. A crown is then placed on the abutment, creating the appearance of a tooth.
According to the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons (AAOMS), your oral surgeon may talk to you about undergoing a bone graft for dental implants if he believes that your jaw bone is too thin or soft to keep the implant in place in its current state. If the bone cannot support the implant, it may cause the implant surgery to fail.
In a bone graft procedure, the surgeon will take a section of bone from another area of your body, or - as is most often the case now - use a special bone grafting material, and graft it onto your jaw bone. You will then have to wait, most likely several months, while the graft creates enough new, strong bone to make sure that the implant will be stable and secure. It is possible if you only need a minor graft that the procedure might be able to be done at the same time as the implant surgery, but your dental specialist will make the final decision. A successful bone graft allows your jaw bone to be strong enough to support your dental implant.
Once the bone graft is complete, the rest of the implant surgery can proceed. As with any surgical procedure, it is important to discuss your personal medical history and all the risks and benefits of the surgery with your dental specialist. Once your doctor decides you are a good fit for the procedure, you can look forward to a brand new smile.