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Bone Grafting for Dental Implants

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A beautiful senior mom of pacific island descent is walking outdoors with her adult thirty something year old daughter. They are enjoying each others company and soaking in the gorgeous, colorful, sunset.

Bone loss to the jaw is one of the most serious consequences of missing teeth. It begins as soon as a tooth is lost, when the natural stimulation for bone growth created by the force of teeth chewing can no longer occur. The result can be dramatic—the width of the bone can be reduced by 25% in the first year alone after tooth loss.

Progressive bone loss can affect your mouth in a number of ways, such as a decrease in gum tissue. It can also limit your choices for tooth replacement. Losing more and more teeth (and bone along with them) could alter your facial appearance if the distance between the nose and chin noticeably shortens as the years go by.

Fortunately, excessive bone loss isn’t inevitable if you lose a tooth. Dentists can perform bone grafting procedures with materials that stimulate new bone growth at the missing tooth site. And, if placed immediately after a tooth extraction, grafting can prevent excessive bone loss and allow for future dental implants to be placed.

How Bone Grafts Work

Bone grafts are derived from one of four possible sources: the patient, another human being, an animal or synthetic materials. The source used will depend on whichever the dentist believes will work best in the patient’s situation. Donor tissue from another person or animal is thoroughly disinfected and safe for grafting.

The graft itself acts more as a platform for nearby bone to grow upon; the new bone growth will eventually replace the graft material, which is made up of the minerals calcium, phosphorous and hydroxyapatite. The dentist may also cover the graft with collagen membranes to guide the regeneration, or synthetic material that acts with other biologically active molecules in the body to promote healing. These materials are eventually absorbed by the body.

Not all grafting procedures are alike—the particular approach taken will depend on the location in the mouth, the degree of bone loss, and whether the grafting takes place immediately after removing a tooth (extraction) or if some time has passed since tooth loss.

In the case of tooth extraction, one option would be for the dentist to fill the site with bone-grafting materials after removing the tooth and before suturing the gum in place. Immediate grafting can limit bone loss during gum healing and facilitate a future dental implant procedure. If the tooth has been missing for some time and the remaining bone is insufficient, the dentist will make an incision in the gum tissue to expose the bone, place and secure the graft along with any planned membranes or growth factors, and then suture the incision closed. Procedures like this are usually performed with local anesthesia.

In cases involving the back of the upper jaw, where bone is insufficient vertically, a surgeon may also utilize the sinus cavity just above it as a grafting site. This sinus can be accessed through the future implant site or laterally through the cheek-side wall of the sinus. There are many more types of bone grafting procedures, from saving teeth threatened by periodontal (gum) disease to repair of traumatic injuries, all of which have similar post operative needs.

After a grafting procedure, patients may experience only mild discomfort for a few days, usually managed with anti-inflammatory, non-steroidal medications like ibuprofen. As a precaution against infection, an antibiotic may also be prescribed.

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Bone Regeneration Expands Your Restorative Choices

Besides halting a patient’s accelerated bone loss, bone grafting could also make possible the best tooth replacement choice available in cosmetic dentistry—dental implants. Since their introduction over three decades ago, dental implants have increased in popularity among both patients and dentists for their lifelike appearance, durability and applicability with a number of other tooth replacement options.

But implants require a minimum amount of bone at the site for proper anchorage, and adequate bone ensures the implant’s eventual crown placement will function properly and appear natural. Bone regeneration through grafting can improve the bone mass at a missing tooth site to the point that a dental implant becomes indistinguishable from a natural tooth.

The implant’s unique composition also holds an added benefit for bone health: The titanium post inserted into the jawbone becomes fused with bone tissue, encouraging continued bone growth in the area.

Improving Your Health and Appearance by 

Restoring Lost Bone

Bone loss can detrimentally impact your oral health and contribute to premature aging. However, with the advancements in grafting technology, there’s hope for regeneration and strengthening of bone, yielding significant benefits for both health and aesthetics.

Dental insurance coverage can play a crucial role in accessing these procedures, ensuring that individuals can pursue optimal oral health without financial burden. Grafting techniques, coupled with insurance support, facilitate controlled and enhanced bone growth, fostering improved mouth function and a more appealing smile.

Does dental insurance cover bone grafts?

While most dental insurance plans do not cover dental implants, some may partially or fully cover medically necessary bone grafts. In situations where dental implants are deemed essential due to medical reasons or accidents, they might be covered by a general medical insurance policy alongside the required grafts. Additionally, insurance policies may extend coverage if severe bone loss significantly impacts a patient’s ability to eat. It’s important to talk to your insurance provider regarding coverage details.

If you or someone in your family is in need of dental insurance to cover the cost of bone grafting, dental implants, and/or other dental procedures, DentalPlans.com can help. 

DentalPlans.com is the largest online marketplace offering both dental insurance and dental savings plans – a trusted and cost-effective alternative to dental insurance that provides savings on dental implants, bone grafting and virtually all other dental care treatments, with quick activation, no annual limits and no restrictions based on current health conditions. Plan members report saving an average of 50%* on their dental care.

Want help comparing dental insurance and dental savings plans? Use our online dental plan finder to get a personalized recommendation in minutes, or give us a call at 1-833-735-0399

*Discount Health Program consumer and provider surveys indicate average savings of 50%. Savings may vary by provider, location, and plan.  

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