Everything to Know About a Bone Graft for Dental Implants
For many patients who must replace teeth, dental implants are much preferred over other solutions. Unlike some of those other solutions, like dentures, dental implants almost always last for at least 20-25 years. If recipients maintain their gums and get regular checkups, implants can last for a lifetime.
That makes dental implants a much better choice than dentures, or other alternatives to tooth loss. Dental implant procedures don’t just happen, though. At times, before a surgeon performs a dental implant procedure, the patient must first get a pre-implant procedure such as a sinus lift or dental bone graft.
Both are common. Below, we discuss exactly what a bone graft is and why patients might need one before dental implants. We also discuss bone graft recovery times and cost.
Dental Implant Requirements: Healthy Gums & Strong Jawbone
There are two aspects to dental implants. First, a post is inserted into the jawbone. After Osseo integration, where the bone accepts the implant and fuses with it, the next phase can start. The next phase is to simply place a crown on the implant.
Because implants are inserted directly into bone, patients must have both healthy gums and strong jawbone. There are numerous reasons why a patient might not have strong jawbone. See below for some of those:
- Tooth loss/extraction – With every lost tooth, we also lose bone stimulation. When bone is unstimulated there’s a chance it softens.
- Dentures – Dentures, a lower cost alternative to dental implants, does not stimulate bone. Dentures sit on top of gums. Bone can become soft because dentures do nothing to help jawbone.
- Dental bridges – Like dentures, bridges do nothing to stimulate our jawbone. Without simulation bone can soften.
- Bite abnormalities – If our teeth don’t work together when we bite, it could cause bone loss in certain areas.
- Periodontal disease – If we haven’t taken care of our teeth and gums, our jawbone can deteriorate.
In the United States, 53 million people have either osteoporosis or are at a high-risk of osteoporosis due to low bone mass. If you’d like to read further about bone loss, you can here.
What are Dental Bone Grafts?
If you wish to get dental implants, but have been told that you must first get a dental bone graft, you might wonder, why? Bone grafts, especially dental bone grafts, aren’t discussed often, which is why we have dedicated a whole blog post to bone graft. Bone graft is really important when it comes to dental implants.
When significant bone loss occurs in our jaws, a thin ridge develops. It’s impossible to install dental implant posts, usually titanium, into the thin ridge. Strong bone is required for dental implant installation.
Bone graft procedures are quite common. A bone graft requires taking strong bone from somewhere in the body, or a strong bone substitute, and introducing it to bone that’s either soft or deteriorating. By introducing strong bone the deteriorating bone strengthens. Simply put, a bone graft is a way of helping out weaker bone become strong again.
When it comes to dental bone graft materials, nothing works as well as a patient’s own bone. Using a patient’s own bone is called autograft. Using synthetic bone as the graft material is called allograft.
Dental Bone Grafts: Autograft Method
The autograft method requires using already existing bone. During a dental bone graft, the surgeon often takes chips of bone from a part of the jawbone called the remus. They then create small blocks and then graft the existing bone onto the thin ridge.
Most dentists consider the autograft method to be the very best method. Utilizing existing bone to graft onto the thin ridge is the best way to rebuild strong bone.
Dental Bone Grafts: Allograft Method
With the allograft method, substitute bone is placed onto the thin ridge. There are a few different dental bone graft materials surgeons can use as existing bone substitutes. One of the substitutes is to get bone from either a cadaver or animal. Usually, the animal is a cow. When bone is taken from an animal, the process is referred to as a xenograft.
Most bone substitute used in the allograft method is osteoconductive bone. Osteoconductive bone material is porous. It allows natural jawbone to grow onto the bone. There are three types of osteoconductive bone: calcium sulfate, calcium phosphate ceramics, and porous coralline ceramics.
Osteoinductive materials are also sometimes used during the allograft method. Osteoinductive materials are usually proteins that help bone growth. They’re not strong enough on their own and require other materials to work.
How Much do Dental Bone Grafts Cost?
In the United States, without insurance, the allograft dental bone graft method can cost up to $3,200 or more. If the autograft method is used, the cost can be anywhere from $2,000 to $3,500+. The reason the autograft method costs more is because it requires hospitalization.
Although every patient is different, a good estimate for an autograft dental bone graft procedure in Costa Rica is $1,500. An allograft procedure will be much, much less, and can be done without hospitalization.
How Long Does it Take to Recover After a Dental Bone Graft Procedure?
As with any surgical procedure, recovery time depends on the patient. Where the actual bone graft takes place should heal within a week. However, that actual bone grafting process, the good bone to strengthen the weak bone, can take several months.
The process of grafting bone connecting to existing bone isn’t painful at all. The pain at where the surgery took place will last depending primarily on how the patient cares for it as well as the patient’s natural healing process.
Why Costa Rica is the Perfect Place to Get Dental Implants
If you’re considering getting dental implants and require a bone graft first, you should think about having the bone graft and dental implants in Costa Rica. Costa Rican dentists are just as qualified as dentists in the United States.
Dental procedures performed in Costa Rica will cost significantly less than procedures performed in U.S. Not only that, but Costa Rica is one of the premier tourist spots in the world. While you’re receiving dental care in the country, you can also partake in various tourist activities. It’s a win-win!
How Care Overseas Can Help
Care Overseas was created to help U.S. and Canadian citizens find an alternative destination for their dental procedures. We believe that everyone has the right to affordable dental care. We provide dental tourism services from helping patients find the perfect dental clinic in Costa Rica to finding a place to stay while in our nation, and to even setting up tourist activities during their stay.
Head to Care Overseas now and get a quote for your dental procedures. You can also call us at 866-778-2766 and we will walk you through the process. Dental care shouldn’t be stressful. Let Care Overseas help!