Bone Grafting: SciFi in the Present â€“ Bringing Back Beautiful Smiles
Wouldn’t it be great if, when you needed a body part or organ, you just go to the doctor to grow it? Does that sound like a show on the Sci-Fi channel? Well, it’s science non-fiction when it comes to growing bone in your jaw and elsewhere. And for patients with otherwise limited options in having dental implants and the ability to chew, it may seem too good to be true.
What is Bone Grafting? Bone grafting is a surgical procedure that adds bone to a deficient site, where it will fuse to the existing bone over time. This added bone may either be autograft (a self donation from the patient), allograft (cadaver bone from a bone bank) or synthetic (from a man-made material). Generally the grafting material tends to be a mixture of these types, as dictated by each patient’s specific needs. The time it takes for the bone to fuse may be 4 – 12 months, depending on the patient’s age, medical and dental health, and oral care and lifestyle habits.
Why Might Bone Grafting Be Needed to Create Beautiful Smiles?
Bone has a tendency to resorb or decrease where there is a missing tooth, when it is affected by disease such as periodontitis, or just with age. When teeth are present they stimulate bone growth, so the bone can stay at a healthy level. However, if teeth are missing, there is no stimulation present, so the bone level will drop.
In the case of periodontitis, or advanced gum disease, the infected and irritated gums after time will start to cause the bone to resorb or “melt” away from the tooth. The bone will continue to do this until the point where the tooth is mobile and eventually lost. Without the proper support of bone around each tooth, not only does this offset the health and function of your teeth, but it also affects the appearance of your smile. The defects that can result due to bone loss can cause a smile to look deformed. With bone correction prior to a “smile restoration” a natural appearance can be regained.
When is it performed? When using dental implants to replace missing teeth, bone grafting needs to be performed prior to implant placement to augment insufficient bone. This is an essential procedure to increase the success of any dental implant. There are various grafting procedures which can build up the jaw bone in height, width or thickness as necessary. Also, if the lack of bone affects the appearance of your smile, a bone graft can allow a more esthetic, natural end result. Finally, when a tooth needs to be extracted a bone graft is added to prevent future bone loss at the site.
Can Anyone Have This Type of Smile Makeover?
Who is a candidate? Not everyone is an ideal candidate for bone grafting. For example, one needs to be in overall good health and dental health, to ensure the best results. Furthermore, a bone graft can only add on a limited amount of bone. For patients who have been undergoing bone loss for years, it may not be possible to add what is sufficient for implant or esthetic needs. However, to find out if bone grafting can benefit you, ask your dentist.
Beyond the obvious function of bone for tooth support, your underlying bone plays a multitude of roles in preserving your natural smile for a lifetime. Continued research in dental and medical technology has allowed patients to take advantage of bone grafting techniques, for a better quality of life.
Dr. Wynn Okuda is an award winning international leader in cosmetic dentistry. He is one of only 280 dentists in the world to be accredited by the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry. Dr. Okuda turned the dental profession on it’s head nearly a decade ago , replacing pain, fear, & discomfort with the Dental Day Spa system. His offices for cosmetic, restorative and implant dentistry are located in Honolulu, Hawaii.
Dr. Okuda has been featured in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Reader’s Digest, American Spa, Shape Magazine, Better Homes & Garden, Health & Fitness Sports Magazine, New Woman, and dozens more!
Dr. Okuda is the founder of “Give Back a Smile”, a charitable foundation of the A.A.C.D. which helps survivors of domestic violence throughout the nation to restore their smiles and lives. He has assembled nearly 1,000 cosmetic dentists nationwide to help fight against domestic violence.