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Bone grafting allows an oral surgeon to enhance the quality and quantity of bone available to support dental implants or other surgical procedures. This may help patients who were previously not good candidates for a procedure be a better fit and achieve more desirable outcomes. Bone grafting is generally performed in conjunction with another oral surgery procedure such as dental implants, tooth extraction, All-on-4® treatment, or a sinus lift. Dr. Cherry carefully evaluates each patient’s situation to determine if they may benefit from bone grafting as part of their treatment plan.

What is Bone Grafting?

Bone grafting is a common procedure that uses natural or synthetic material to grow new bone. Tiny bone fragments are placed in the area where more bone is desired. The body naturally begins building new bone from the grafted material, and it fuses with the existing jawbone to form a stronger, thicker foundation. The graft serves as a type of scaffolding to support bone growth. Bone grafts may be used to fill empty sockets following tooth loss or extraction, build up or reshape the dental ridge, or add bone volume and create a sturdier floor following a sinus lift.

Major and Minor Bone Grafting

Bone grafting can be beneficial in both major and minor oral surgery procedures. Many patients may receive a bone graft in conjunction with tooth extraction or loss in order to fill in the empty socket and stimulate bone regeneration. This procedure is considered a minor bone graft or socket preservation. A dental implant may be placed at the same time so that the new bone remodels around it as it fuses to the jawbone, or a patient may have to wait until the graft site has fully healed before a dental implant is inserted. A sinus lift also typically involves minor bone grafting.

Major bone grafting is common when repairing the jaw following facial trauma or when treating a large bony defect. It may also be used to restore missing bone, such as after cyst or tumor removal. These are more extensive procedures that require a larger amount of bone to create a sturdy bone structure.

Type of Bone Grafts

There are several different types of bone grafts that can be used to rebuild the jaw. Each type has its own advantages and disadvantages, and Dr. Cherry takes this into consideration when developing a personalized treatment plan and determining which type of bone graft to use. The four primary types of bone grafts are:

  • Autografts: Bone is harvested from another part of the patient’s own body, such as the jaw, hip, or tibia. There is little chance of rejection since it is the patient’s own bone material.
  • Allografts: Bone is harvested from a human donor if the patient’s own bone is unable to be used. The cadaver bone is thoroughly cleaned, so it is safe for grafting.
  • Xenografts: Bone is harvested from an animal such as a cow. This type of bone is compatible with the human body and creates an effective scaffolding for new bone growth.
  • Alloplasts: Synthetic materials, including hydroxyapatite and calcium, are used to create bone graft material. The graft contains a variety of minerals and elements that are naturally found in bone to stimulate growth.

All four types of bone grafts have the ability to produce desired results and improve the overall quality and quantity of bone in the jaw.

What Happens During the Bone Grafting Procedure?

Dr. Cherry and his team are able to safely perform bone grafting procedures at the Greenville office. He will let patients know during their consultation what type of bone grafting material will be used. 

Anesthesia will be administered as necessary to numb the area and keep the patient as comfortable as possible. Dr. Cherry will then make an incision in the gum to access the bone. The gum is gently pulled back, and the bone grafting material is placed where additional bone is needed. The gums are gently closed over the bone graft and sutured shut to hold everything in place and start the healing process. Traditional sutures or dissolvable sutures may be used.

Comfort and Recovery After Your Treatment

Some swelling and bruising is normal following a bone graft. Patients may also feel pressure or fullness in the area where the graft was placed, or notice small pieces of bone-like grains of sand coming out of the site. This is also to be expected during recovery. Placing an icepack wrapped in a towel on the cheek can help minimize inflammation and reduce discomfort. Pain relievers or antibiotics may be prescribed as well.

Many patients feel well enough to return to work or school within a day after minor bone grafting procedures. A follow-up appointment may be necessary to remove sutures if they do not dissolve on their own and to make sure the site is healing properly. Patients should eat a soft food diet for the first few days and avoid any strenuous activity. It can take several weeks or months for new bone growth to occur and for the bone to mature to the point where dental implants can be supported. It is important for patients to follow the post-operative instructions provided. 

You’re in Good Hands with Dr. Cherry

Bone grafting can play an integral role in supporting overall oral health and enabling patients to restore function and aesthetics. Dr. Cherry and his team guide patients every step of the way so they know what to expect and are able to feel more confident in their decisions. Contact Cherry Orchard Oral & Implant Surgery at (864) 603-2464 to schedule a consultation and learn more about the bone grafting process.