If you need a dental implant, then you may already know that this kind of procedure can take a while. This isn't a quick treatment that takes one dental appointment; it works in stages, typically over a period of months. However, when your dentist assesses your mouth to see if an implant is a suitable option, they tell you that you may need a bone graft before the implant can be put in. This will add to the overall time it takes until your new tooth is fitted.
Why does bone grafting add to your treatment time? Can different types of graft speed up the process?
Bone Grafts Aren't a Quick Fix
You only need a graft before an implant if the bone in your jaw isn't up to the job of holding an implant post. This bone needs to be big enough for the post to embed in it, and it also needs to be solid enough to create a firm hold around the post. If your bone isn't up to scratch, then your dentist can insert a bone graft in the implant site. This graft will ultimately attach to the bone you do have, creating a stronger foundation for your new tooth. Once this process is finished, your dentist can start work on the implant.
This doesn't happen quickly, however. A bone graft can take a long time to integrate with your existing bone and to grow into a solid mass. Typically, this takes months; however, it's hard to accurately predict when the graft will be ready. This depends on how well the two types of bone mix and meld and, sometimes, on the type of graft you need or use.
Some Bone Grafts Are Quicker Than Others
Minor bone grafts may work more quickly than extensive ones. So, for example, your delay may be shorter if your bone only needs to be rebuilt or reinforced a little bit. The type of graft you use may also play a part in the time it takes for your bone work to finish. You may be given the choice of a graft from a part of bone somewhere else on your own body. Or, your dentist may recommend using a graft from animal bone or an artificial product.
Generally, using your own bone to create a graft works best. Your body is less likely to reject your bone and may assimilate it more quickly. An animal or artificial alternative may take longer.
Your dentist can talk you through your grafting options and help you choose the right one. They may also be able to give you an idea of how long you might have to wait until the actual implant work can begin.