In order for a dental implant to be successful the patient must have sufficient bone in the jaw to place the implant into. Usually the quality and quantity of bone in the jaw is reflective of how the bone healed after the tooth was removed, and not an underlying medical condition.
It was once assumed that if a patient did not have enough bone in their jaw they would not be suitable for dental implants. Today, thanks to the massive advances in dental techniques and technology patients with insufficient bone in the jaw can have the bone rebuilt using bone grafting.
The actual bone grafting procedure is much more straightforward than you might think. Bone grafting will only take place after your dentist has assessed the quality and quantity of the bone in your jaw and found that there is not enough to continue with a dental implant. Next your dentist will discuss the different types of bone graft with you and decide which will be the most suitable for you.
Once this has been decided the bone graft can be performed. For this the dentist will cut the gum at the site of the bone graft and create flap of skin. When the jaw bone is exposed the dentist will place the bone to be grafted onto the site and cover it with a protective membrane. This membrane is used to protect the bone from any microbiota (germs) found in the mouth and ensure that the area is perfectly clean to encourage the healing process. Finally the flap of gum is replaced and stitched carefully back into place. Healing time for a bone graft can vary from patient to patient but on average it is around 4 months. Patients are also given a course of antibiotics to take in the days following their bone graft. Antibiotic mouthwashes are also prescribed to preserve the health of the gum covering the bone graft.