Your upper and lower jawbones play an important role in the health of your mouth and your ability to chew food, swallow, and speak properly. A healthy jaw requires stimulation from chewing and biting, but when you have one or more teeth missing your once-healthy jaw will begin to deteriorate from lack of stimulation. Not only can this impact the overall appearance of your face, it can also cause significant pain and difficulty speaking and chewing.

Reducing the Impact of Bone Loss

Major and minor bone grafting are procedures that help to restore the jawbone after it begins to deteriorate and become reabsorbed into the body. Studies have shown that you may lose as much as 25% of the bone in your jaw area just in the first year following tooth loss, and it continues to deteriorate each year thereafter. This can also cause problems down the road if you decide that you want to get implants or dentures—without enough supportive bone, dentures won’t fit correctly and there may not be an adequate quantity of bone in which to place an implant.

Through new surgical techniques and treatment options, we now have the ability to grow bone in places where it has resorbed, which can help create a solid foundation for your dentures or provide adequate bone to support dental implants. Bone grafting procedures can also help improve the aesthetic appearance for jawbones that have deteriorated to the point that your facial features are altered.

The Basics on Bone Grafting

The most common reasons that patients require a minor bone graft include loss of bone structure due to:

  • Tooth extractions
  • Gum disease (periodontal disease)
  • Facial trauma or injury

The bone to be grafted can either come from a tissue bank or from the patient’s own bone in other areas of the jaw, the hip, or the tibia (the leg bone below your knee). In some cases the doctors may recommend placement of special membranes that dissolve under your gums and encourage more bone regeneration, a process called guided bone or guided tissue regeneration.

Other Graft Procedures

Sinus Lift Procedure

For some patients the roots of teeth in their upper jaw extend into the maxillary sinuses, but when these teeth are removed and the thin bone layer between the sinuses and the mouth deteriorates it can be problematic for future dental implant placement. Sinus lift procedures, or sinus grafts, can solve this problem by implanting donor bone in the floor of the sinus after lifting the membrane. It requires several months’ healing time before implants can be placed, but is a great option for anyone who has limited bone in this area and has been wearing loose dentures rather than getting implants.

Ridge Expansion

Jawbones provide the support for dentures, but as bone reabsorbs into the body following tooth loss or extraction, the ridge can become too thin. This is also an issue for someone who is interested in getting dental implants but doesn’t have a wide enough ridge bone to support them. Ridge expansion can help provide a better bone structure for future dental implants.

Rebuild Your Bones

If lack of bone structure has held you back from getting properly fitting dentures or dental implants, talk to the experienced team at Utah Oral Surgery & Dental Implant Center today by calling 801-269-1110 to find out more about bone grafting.