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Why You Might Benefit from Bone Grafting

Jun 01, 2023
When most people think of oral health, they consider teeth first, gums second, and their jawbone not at all. But a healthy jawbone is essential to healthy teeth. Sometimes, the bone you have just isn't enough. That’s where grafting comes in.

The alveolar bones, otherwise known as your jawbones, hold your teeth in place and allow you to chew and speak. But, if you’re like most people, you probably haven’t given your jawbones much thought. In fact, unless you suffer from temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder, which creates pain in your jaw, you may not think of them at all.

However, the health of your jawbones affects the health of your teeth, too. If you’ve lost jawbone to trauma, age, or gum disease, your dentist may recommend bone grafting. Bone grafting is often performed when you decide to get dental implants, but you may need it for other reasons, too.

At AB Dental and Oral Surgery in San Antonio, Texas, Anthony Osei, DDS, PhD, may recommend bone grafting to restore your oral health and protect your teeth. Could you benefit from bone grafting? Following are a few reasons why you might.

You just lost a tooth

It’s traumatic enough to lose a tooth and have to see the drastic change in your smile. But after you lose a tooth, you may suffer even more unwanted dental changes.

Each tooth supports the teeth next to it in an arch of teeth. Once one tooth goes missing, all of the other teeth in that arch are at risk for displacement, especially the teeth on either side of the gap left by the missing tooth.

Without that middle tooth to support them, the teeth that surround the gap start to lean toward it. They may even twist or fall into the gap. Unintuitively, even the teeth on the opposite side of the arch are at risk. They, too, can start to lean and twist toward the open gap, a condition called supraeruption.

To prevent a large-scale misalignment and supraeruption of your teeth, your dentist may recommend filling the gap with a bone graft. The graft pushes back against the teeth that surround the gap, keeping them in place. 

The graft also then makes tooth replacement — especially dental implants — easier to accomplish. If you’re having a tooth extracted at our office, we recommend performing a bone graft at the same time to give you more restorative options in the future, while preserving the health of your other teeth right now.

You’ve been missing teeth for a while

The longer you allow gaps in your teeth to persist, the more havoc those gaps create. One serious consequence of missing teeth is jawbone atrophy.

When you have all of your teeth, they create healthy stress and pressure on your jawbone when you bite and chew your food. That stress stimulates cell renewal in the jawbone, so that it continually replaces old or dead bone with fresh new bone cells.

When a tooth or teeth go missing, however, the pressure goes missing, too. Without the stimulating stress, the jawbone in that area stops producing new bone cells. As old bone cells die and are resorbed by your body, nothing takes their place. Over time, your jawbone gets smaller.

If you’ve been missing teeth for a while, you may have lost a significant amount of bone. We may recommend bone grafts to keep your face proportional and to protect your remaining teeth. We may even need to perform a bone graft in order to fit you with natural-looking dentures.

Be warned, however: Once you have dentures, bone loss can continue. The only type of tooth replacement that stimulates bone growth the way natural teeth do is a dental implant.

You’ve had periodontal disease

Periodontitis is an infection and disease of your gums that also affects your jaws and puts your teeth at risk. The infection that erodes your gums can also erode your bone tissue.

When you don’t have enough solid bone, your teeth are at risk for loss. We may recommend bone grafting to build up the bone so that it can fuse to your tooth roots and keep them secure.

You want dental implants

If you’re missing one or more teeth, dental implants are the optimal way to replace them. Each dental implant is crafted to look like a natural tooth. The implant device itself, made of titanium, acts like an artificial root to secure your tooth in your jaw.

But if you don’t have sufficient jawbone to hold the implant securely, we must create a bone graft for you. Bone grafting adds time to your total treatment time for implants.

Do you think you’d benefit from bone grafting or dental implants? If so, contact our restorative dentistry team by phone or through our online form today.