Conceptually, jawbone grafts are fairly simple. New bone, or bone-like synthetic material, is grafted onto the bone where it is weak or missing, and strengthens the structure while also potentially promoting bone growth over time. But why and when does a dentist recommend this treatment?
The short reason is that a bone graft addresses bone loss and strengthens a weakened jaw. Some causes of bone loss, like osteoporosis, can make your bone more fragile. Missing bone in the jaw can also change facial shape. But bone grafts often treat more specific conditions that can have greater impact on your dental health.
Probably one of the most common reasons to perform a bone graft is to strengthen the bone enough to provide a base for a dental implant procedure. In that case, your dentist will recommend the bone graft to keep your dental implant stable—weak or missing bone around the base of even a normal tooth can eventually cause tooth loss. The idea is to make certain that your implant sets without problem.
Your dentist might also recommend a bone graft in order to treat serious gum disease. Once it reaches a certain stage, gum disease can cause bone loss in your jaw that, if serious enough, your dentist will want to correct while treating it. In these cases, the purpose of the bone graft is to repair the bone and stimulate regrowth in the areas damaged by gum disease. It can also work to prevent tooth loss—weakened jawbone, generally or caused by gum disease, can result in loose teeth.
Of course in any case your dentist will know your personal situation best and thus are the best source of information and advice for specific questions. However, we always recommend focusing on prevention. While getting a needed bone graft is beneficial for you, it’s even more beneficial to never need one in the first place. Keeping up with your oral hygiene by brushing and flossing daily is the best way to prevent gum disease and missing teeth in the first place.