Hard Tissue Reconstruction
Your teeth and jaw each rely on the other to stay healthy and strong. While your jaw provides structure and support for your teeth, your teeth provide stimulation to your jawbone when you talk and chew. When teeth fall out and aren’t replaced immediately with an implant, the jawbone doesn’t receive stimulation, and will start to melt away, or resorb. Jaw bone can also resorb if you have been wearing removable dentures for a long time, or if the fit of your denture or bridge isn’t quite right.
The resorption process occurs more rapidly than most people realize. In fact, when a tooth is lost, the surrounding bone can lose as much as 25% of its ridge height within the first year, and then continue to lose an additional 4 millimeters of height within the next few years.
In addition to affecting the shape of your jaw and the contours of your face, shrunken bone tissue can also make it hard to place dental implants. To correct this problem, Dr. Scharf may recommend hard tissue reconstruction, also called bone grafting.
Hard Tissue Reconstruction: An Overview
Although hard tissue reconstruction can sound intimidating, most people report that it feels just like any other dental or periodontal treatment. After the area has been carefully evaluated and X-rays have shown the extent of your bone resorption, Dr. Scharf will use bone material or bone substitutes to stimulate bone growth and to rebuild the area. After the grafts have been placed, the space will need some time to heal. Depending on the condition of your teeth, gums, and jaw tissue, this may take anywhere from 6-9 months. However, after the area has healed, it will be strong and durable enough to support a beautiful, stable implant.
Recovering From Hard Tissue Reconstruction
For the first 24-48 hours following hard tissue reconstruction, the area may ooze or bleed slightly, and some patients experience swelling. To minimize the risk of unintentionally dislodging bone particles, do not disturb the wound and avoid rinsing your mouth vigorously. Patients recovering from hard tissue reconstruction should also avoid smoking, which can interfere with healing, and drinking alcohol, which can dry out the mouth and cause pain.
To reduce pain and swelling, patients are encouraged to use ice packs on the outside of the face near the grafting site and to take their prescribed medications on time. Over-the-counter pain medications like Tylenol and Ibuprofen can help patients to control pain and reduce swelling.
For the first day following hard tissue reconstruction, patients should ingest liquids but avoid straws, which can dislodge protective blood clots. After the first day, patients can enjoy soft foods until they feel comfortable eating a normal diet. Until your wound site has healed, you may need to chew foods on the opposing side of your mouth.
Sutures are removed at a follow-up appointment 7-10 days following the procedure, and your healing will be monitored closely by Dr. Scharf throughout the next several months.
For more information about hard tissue reconstruction, make an appointment with Dr. David Scharf today. With bone grafting and dental implants in Long Island, you can enjoy the smile of your dreams in less time than you might think.