Are Dental Bone Grafts Necessary and Are They Painful?

Why Dental Implants and Bone Grafts Go Together

If you need a tried-and-tested tooth replacement option, you are better off with a dental implant. It is a long-term solution that is permanently fixed in your gums with the crown of the replacement tooth having the natural color of your teeth. To make a dental implant stable and secure, a bone graft procedure can be recommended by your doctor. A bone graft procedure involves taking a section of bone from another part of your body. However, there is another type of bone graft procedure, and it involves using a special bone grafting material and allowing it to create bone strong enough to stabilize and secure a dental implant that is to be attached the gums. A bone graft procedure may be given to you as an option once the dentist finds out that it is too thin or soft. A bone graft is a surgical procedure, so it is necessary for you to tell your doctor your medical history to allow him or her to have an informed decision.

The Dental Bone Graft Processes

As mentioned, a bone graft procedure is recommended by your doctor if your jawbone can’t support a dental implant. Chewing applies strong pressure to your bone, and a bone graft procedure ensures that a tooth implant procedure is successful and that the implant remains affixed to your gum for many years to come.

dental bone graft

There are processes that you have to undergo to get a dental bone graft by taking a section from your bone. Your doctor may advise you to stop taking certain medicines if you are on medication, to quit smoking before the procedure to help facilitate a speedy recovery. You may also have to take some tests, including:

  • X-rays
  • CT scan
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)

You should not eat anything after midnight before the surgery. During the surgery, anesthesia will be administered. All throughout the surgery, your vital signs such as blood pressure and heart rate will be monitored. The surgeon will cut through the skin and muscle to harvest a bone graft. Then, the surgeon will lodge the bone graft between the two pieces of the bone that need to bind and grow together. It is possible that special screws will be used to make sure the bone graft is secure. Finally, the surgeon will stitch up the area where bone was harvested.

Dental Bone Graft Pain

A dental bone graft procedure is a type of surgery, and it is expected that you will feel at least a small amount of pain during the procedure, but it is not very painful thanks to anesthesia. You will also feel pain after the procedure, when the area that has been operated heals. During this phase, you may feel pain and discomfort. You may also experience swelling in the gums and face, bruising of gums and skin, as well as minimal bleeding. But, since the doctor will know that these things may happen he or she will prescribe pain medication for you to cope with pain. However, if pain becomes excessive it is recommended to see your doctor. The doctor may allow you to increase your pain medication dosage.

dental bone graft healing

Typical Dental Bone Graft Recovery Time

It takes only 45 to 90 minutes to finish a bone graft dental procedure. But, the recovery time in the case of using bone substitute is approximately two weeks, but it can be difficult to determine the exact length of recovery because you have to consider a number of factors. One of them is the type of bone substitute used. Other factors to consider are the complexity of the procedure and whether the location of the transplant is on the upper jaw or the lower jaw.

How Long Will the Bone Graft Pain Last?

Aside from the recovery time, you may also want to know the waiting time for certain developments. For example, the waiting time until getting a solid bone mass is three to six months, but it can take at least five to six months if a sinus lift procedure is performed.

There are varying opinions on what level of pain that you may experience right after a bone graft procedure and during the recovery time. But, as mentioned you will be prescribed with pain medications. Ibuprofen, such as Advil and Motrin, may be prescribed by the doctor, and the dosage for ibuprofen can be 400 to 800 mg every six to eight hours. The effects of ibuprofen are pain relief and swelling reduction. An alternative to ibuprofen is one to two tablets of acetaminophen such as Tylenol, which can be taken every four to six hours. If you need stronger pain medication, your doctor may prescribe Tylenol with codeine, Percocet or Norco, which is hydrocodone with acetaminophen. However, if the pain is severe, you may be allowed to take Norco with ibuprofen. Do not combine Tylenol with codeine, Percocet or Norco with any drug that contains acetaminophen.

dental bone graft ridge diagram

Recovery After a Dental Bone Graft

With enough pain medication, you may not feel pain post-surgery. Aside from the recovery time, you may also want to know the waiting time for certain developments. For example, the waiting time until getting a solid bone mass is three to six months, but it can take at least five to six months if a sinus lift procedure is performed.

Are There Any Potential Complications from Dental Bone Graft

Like any surgery a dental bone graft procedure has its share of health risks. The problems that may arise are rare and usually minor, however. The risks of undergoing a dental procedure include infection around the area of the implant site, as well as damage or injury to other teeth, blood vessels and other structures surrounding the implant site. Another possible complication is the development of sinus problems, which happens when a dental implant affixed in the upper jaw protrude into one of the sinus cavities.

After the procedure, you need to do a number of things to ensure a speedy recovery. Your doctor will advise you to avoid doing strenuous activities for a period of time. If bone has been harvested from your own body, you should apply ice on the area that has been operated on even if the area is covered in cast. Also, make sure you elevate it if it’s an arm or leg when it’s possible, because it can help swelling to subside. Although your doctor will advise against vigorous physical activities, you can do a light exercise on the muscles groups that are not affected by the surgery. Eating properly also helps in the process of recovery. Quitting smoking improves the health of your body after surgery, as the habit slows down healing process and bone growth. And, studies show that smokers are at a high risk for bone graft failure. In fact, there are surgeons who refuse to do elective bone graft procedure if the patient is a smoker.