One of the major benefits of healthy natural teeth is a healthy jawbone. When you lose a tooth, your jawbone in that area begins to deteriorate. This triggers a chain reaction, which can cause serious oral and overall health complications.
A dental bone graft can resolve these issues. This is a procedure that is used to add volume/density to the jawbone and is a common procedure at Smoke Rise Dental. It is usually recommended for patients who:
- Are having teeth extracted
- Are replacing a missing tooth with a dental implant
- Have jawbone loss due to gum disease
- Need to rebuild their jaw to support dentures
The bone graft procedure is fairly invasive, and healing takes some time. Most patients can get back to their normal routine within about 2 weeks. However, full integration of the graft with the bone usually takes at least 3 to 9 months. This is especially critical if the bone graft is required for dental implant placement.
In this article, we’ll explain the factors that impact healing time following bone graft surgery, as well as what you can do to speed up the process.
How Does Bone Grafting Work?
There are four different types of bone grafts:
- Autogenous: bone is taken from another part of the patient’s body
- Allograft: bone is used from a human tissue bank
- Xenograft: bone is used from an animal tissue bank
- Alloplast: synthetic bone material is used
Most general dentists are qualified to perform bone graft procedures, but some patients prefer to work with a specialist, especially if they are getting dental implants or other restorations.
The dentist will start by administering local anesthesia to the area. If necessary, sedation may be provided. Once you are relaxed, a small incision will be made in the gum to expose the jawbone. Then, the area will be cleaned and disinfected and bone graft material will be added. A membrane will be used to cover the bone graft site to protect it and the incision will be stitched closed.
Tips to Speed up Bone Graft Healing
First of all, it’s important to understand that, like with any surgery, healing from a bone graft procedure takes time. Still, there are some things you can do- and things you should avoid- that can speed up the healing process:
Follow Your Dentist’s Instructions
This is the most critical factor in the healing process. You will be provided with specific aftercare instructions which will include keeping the surgical site clean, taking all prescribed medications as directed, and avoiding putting stress on the area.
Use Cold Therapy
Cold therapy is beneficial for reducing swelling/inflammation, which can reduce healing time.
Get Adequate Rest
Adequate rest is critical for healing after any type of surgery or illness. This allows your body to focus on healing the affected area.
Lie On Your Back
You will be instructed to sleep on your back with your head elevated if at all possible. This will reduce swelling by preventing the accumulation of blood at the surgical site. If this is difficult, you will want to avoid sleeping on the side where the surgery was performed.
While rest is critical for healing, so is physical activity. Low-impact exercise including swimming and walking can promote healing by improving blood flow.
Stick to a Healthy Diet
A healthy diet that includes protein, calcium, and other vitamins and minerals is critical for the healing process. You may wish to speak with a nutritionist before your procedure to get a food plan in place.
Use a Saltwater Rinse
A saltwater rinse improves blood circulation and prevents the accumulation of bacteria around the surgical site, reducing infection risk.
Vitamins and minerals such as vitamin D, magnesium, and calcium are critical for strong, healthy bones. Taking supplements can fill the gaps in your diet and promote healing after bone graft surgery. However, you should consult your medical provider before taking them to ensure that they are safe.
Practice Proper Oral Hygiene
Proper oral hygiene habits are critical for the healing process. You should use a soft-bristled toothbrush to gently clean around the surgical site. Avoid an electric toothbrush, as the vibration can slow healing.
Smoking and tobacco use can have a detrimental impact on your body’s ability to heal after surgery.
Factors Affecting Bone Graft Healing Process
Most patients are able to return to their normal activities within 2 weeks of the bone graft surgery. However, it is important to note that full healing usually takes 3 to 9 months- and may take longer. There are several factors that impact healing:
- Type of bone graft
- Area of the bone graft
- Your oral and overall health
Do You Have Jawbone Deterioration? You May Need a Bone Graft
If you have experienced jawbone deterioration for any reason, you may need a bone graft procedure. Schedule your consultation with the team at Smoke Rise Dental today. Our trained dentists will evaluate your condition and determine if you qualify for bone grafting.