If you have a missing tooth from injury or decay, it’s crucial to fill the space as soon as possible to prevent further oral health problems down the line. Dental implants are the strongest, longest-lasting and most natural-looking option for tooth replacement. Because the implant screw is inserted below the gumline to eventually fuse with the jawbone, patients must have sufficient bone density to support the implant. People with insufficient bone density usually require a bone grafting procedure in Tijuana first.

What is a dental bone graft?

A dental bone graft is a procedure to increase the amount of bone in the jaw where the implant will be placed. Either bone material from the patient’s own body, a donor source, or a synthetic material can be surgically fused to the existing jawbone. There are four main types of dental bone grafts based on the materials used:

  • Autograft: Uses bone from the patient’s body, usually from the hip or elsewhere in the jaw
  • Allograft: Uses bone from a human donor, usually a cadaver
  • Xenograft: Uses bone from another species, usually cows or pigs
  • Alloplast: Uses synthetic material, such as calcium phosphate or Bioglass

The latest in dental science developments include promising new sources of material for bone grafts, using cells, growth factors, and gene-modifying drugs.

Who needs bone grafts?

Bone grafts are most often used to provide support for dental implants, but that’s not the only reason a person may need a bone graft procedure. For people experiencing bone loss from gum disease, bone grafts can stabilize the jaw and prevent further bone loss and future oral health problems. The natural aging process is also known to decrease bone density, and less bone material in the jaw can alter the structure of the face and change a person’s appearance. A bone grafting procedure can help reverse some of the effects of age-related bone loss. 

What happens during the bone graft procedure?

The main question people have about the bone graft procedure is whether it will be painful. Typically, the procedure itself is not painful thanks to local anesthesia but prescription pain medication might be needed once the anesthetic wears off. 

After local anesthesia is administered (along with IV dental sedation if necessary), any teeth that need to be extracted for the future dental implant is the first step. If the choice was to use an autograft, bone harvesting would be completed at this step as well. 

The next step is the insertion of the graft material. First, the dentist makes an incision in the gum tissue to expose the bone. Then, the bone graft material is attached to it and secured with a dissolvable adhesive material or membrane, or with special screws. After the material is in place, the incision is sutured up. Patients who are sedated or receive general anesthesia during the procedure will need someone else to drive them home.

What happens after the bone graft procedure?

Directly after the bone graft procedure, gauze is packed around the incision and the patient is given instructions for changing the dressing during the next 24 hours. Along with a prescription for pain medication, patients typically receive a prescription for antibiotics to prevent infection. Ice packs are recommended to help reduce pain and swelling for the first day or two following the procedure, and patients are instructed to eat soft, bland food for the first few days. Patients should also sleep with their head slightly elevated for the first night or two to prevent blood from pooling at the site of the incision.

Some dull pain in their jaw following the procedure is normal, and it should subside after about a week. After a few weeks the jaw should start to feel back to normal. However, it takes a few months before the graft is strong enough to anchor a dental implant.

Bone grafts for dental implants in Tijuana

If you need a bone grafting procedure for dental implants, BioDental Care in Tijuana offers professional dental services for extremely competitive costs compared to U.S.-based dentists. Patients can save up to 70 percent without compromising quality and safety! If you have questions about bone grafts, dental implants, or other dental procedures, give us a call at (619) 754-8508.