A bone graft can replace bone tissue that has been lost due to facial trauma, gum disease, or infection. To ensure the success of every bone graft performed at Oral Surgery and Dental Implant Center of Santa Fe, Dr. Sean Healy and Dr. Diego Hurtado carefully screen every candidate and provide honest feedback. If we do not believe that a bone graft will truly help your case, we will not perform the procedure.
Bone graft is basically the utilization of materials to substitute bone while something's healing. You could either use cadaver bone, you can use animal bone, you can use synthetic bones. They all have advantages and disadvantages. But the main thing is, does it really need to be done or not?
Generally, in a bone graft, healthy people that are important. Patients with like poorly controlled diabetes, or head and neck cancer treatments where they had radiation, or patients that may be on like immunosuppressive medications, they may not be as good of a candidate for bone grafting, partly because their body may not heal as well.
Also, candidates would be somebody that wants to replace their tooth with an implant. But if they don't want to replace the tooth with an implant, then a bone graft's really not necessary. It's one expensive, and two, it could cause problems if we did it. So, sometimes it's better not to do it. So, it really just depends on patient's health, what medications they've been exposed to, what their health history is like. Smokers are a little riskier than non-smokers, just because of the blood supply issues. So, those are all factors we look at to see if a graft is necessary or not.
Bone grafts, a lot of times, are doing what we call "socket preservation." You take a tooth out and then you put a bone graft in where the socket was, to kind of preserve the ridge of bone, make it stay thick, or big, or tall. Typically, we'll use a combination of cadaver bone and a synthetic bone. It tends to work really, really nicely. Most people seem to tolerate it very, very well.
It's just a little sore, a little achy afterwards for a few days. Most of it's just gum soreness. The gums in the area are sore, so we usually don't recommend eating on that side because it wouldn't feel very good. And if you brushed the spot, it wouldn't feel very good. You can keep everybody else clean. We usually have you not go swimming in a pool for three or four days, take it easy for a few days, soft diet for a while.
I think the main thing on grafting is just, is it necessary or not? A lot of time it is necessary, especially if you want to replace the tooth. But if it's not necessary, then it's just a procedure that shouldn't be done. And that's, I think, what makes us different is just the honesty of sometimes it needs to be done, and sometimes it doesn't. And the patient needs to kind of weigh out, is it in my best interest to do this or not? And if it is, then certainly it's very doable. If it's not, then why would we do this?