If you’re looking to improve your smile with dental implants but have been told you first need a bone graft, you might have some questions about this procedure. While it might sound alarming, bone grafting is sometimes necessary to restore the jawbone to a healthy condition so it can properly support your new implants. There are many different types of bone grafts that your doctor may recommend, but the process is more straightforward and comfortable than it seems.
Dr. John P. Freeman is a highly experienced oral and maxillofacial surgeon specializing in bone reconstruction and the insertion of dental implants. Keep reading to learn more about bone grafts, how they help, and what you can expect during the recovery process as you wait to receive your dental implants at his award-winning practice in Katy, Texas.
Bone grafting is an oral surgery that adds volume and density to the jawbone. It is often done on patients with bone loss prior to giving them dental implants. Bone loss occurs due to missing or extracted teeth, which normally help preserve the jawbone through activities such as biting or chewing. Without this necessary stimulation, affected portions of the jawbone begin to reabsorb back into the body. Over time, there might not be enough bone left to support a dental implant.
To perform this procedure, bone material is first sourced to find a suitable replacement. This might come from your own body, a donor, an animal tissue bank or synthetic materials. Whichever is chosen will be based on Dr. Freeman’s experience, how much bone loss has occurred and what will provide the best results. Once the material has been sourced, it will be inserted into the jaw to improve bone mass and regenerate healthy tissues. Eventually, enough new bone growth will occur to replace the grafting material.
After your bone grafting has been completed, it takes time for the body to heal and incorporate the new material into the jawbone. It may be several months before you’re ready for dental implants, but here’s what you can expect during the recovery process.
Your exact recovery process will differ depending on which type of bone grafting procedure you have performed. However, there are some similarities you can expect in the days, weeks and months after your surgery. If any questions or concerns arise, Dr. Freeman will be available throughout your recovery to address them to ensure your comfort and safety.
Recovering from a bone graft is usually more comfortable than people expect, but the first few days will be the hardest. Once the anesthesia wears off, you’ll experience some discomfort, swelling and bruising that lasts up to a week. Fortunately, this can be managed with rest, pain relievers and over-the-counter medications. Dr. Freeman will also provide you with antibiotics to prevent an infection. It’s important to take all drugs as prescribed to minimize the risk of complications, which could include your body rejecting the grafting material.
After the first week, most pain, bruising or swelling should significantly subside. You’ll be able to resume your normal activities by this time, but Dr. Freeman will continue to monitor your progress to ensure a healthy recovery. You’ll also be able to consume a regular diet while continuing to avoid crunchy, sticky or hard foods that could get stuck in the treated area.
By the end of the first month, you will feel like yourself again, but the bone is still healing beneath the surface of your gums. It can take a few months for the grafted bone material to fuse into the jawbone, and even longer to stimulate new tissue growth. The exact time frame can vary depending on the patient. Dr. Freeman will schedule follow-up visits to make sure your recovery is going smoothly. Once the bone graft is fully integrated, he will let you know when your jaw is ready for the next stage of treatment.
After receiving a bone graft, good post-operative care is crucial to ensure proper healing and the long-term success of the treatment. Carefully following instructions from Dr. Freeman can also help minimize unnecessary pain, swelling and the risk of complications. You’ll be given a list of guidelines to follow upon leaving our office, but here are some general tips to remember for the best possible outcome.
Dr. Freeman may recommend a liquid diet for the first 24 hours after your bone graft. However, straws shouldn’t be used, as the suction can harm the surgical site. You can slowly introduce soft foods after the first day and resume a normal diet as tolerated, but avoid anything that is too hard, crunchy or sticky. Be sure to stay hydrated and try to limit alcohol consumption, especially if you’re taking prescribed pain medication.
Oral hygiene is important to reduce the risk of infection, but no spitting, rinsing or brushing for the first 24 hours after your surgery. Otherwise, you might disturb the blood clot and prolong the healing process. You can begin to gently clean or brush your teeth the next day, but take care not to be rough or apply too much pressure around the surgical site.
Immediately after your surgery, you should plan on getting plenty of rest and limiting physical activity. Doing too much too soon can disrupt the healing process and increase side effects like bleeding or swelling. Most patients are ready to resume work and other daily tasks within a few days.
Do not smoke, vape or use nicotine products for at least four weeks after your surgery. This can dry out the tissues, interfere with the healing process and increase the risk of complications.
Once you’ve recovered from your bone graft and the material has fused with your jawbone, it should be stable enough to support dental implants. Healthy bone mass in the jaw provides a stable foundation for your new implants and ensures that they are adequately secured in the mouth, so your final results will be both functional and attractive. When you’re ready for this next step, Dr. Freeman will describe the process in more detail and develop a personalized treatment plan for restoring a healthy, beautiful smile. Generally, this involves placement of the implant posts, followed by your custom-made abutments and crowns.
Bone grafting can sound intimidating, but for many people, it’s the first step to achieving a beautiful, healthy smile. This procedure can help prepare your jaw for dental implants, which replace lost, missing or damaged teeth so you can feel more confident in your appearance. If you’re thinking about dental implants but aren’t sure if you need a bone graft first, schedule a consultation with Dr. John P. Freeman in Katy, Texas, today by calling 281-599-9445.