You may be a candidate for one of our oral surgery procedures such as tooth extraction, wisdom tooth removal, bone grafting or soft tissue grafting if you are experiencing tooth pain, tooth infections, receding gums or other oral health issues that require surgery. Our Beacon Dental Health oral surgeons have extensive training and are ready to provide the care you require at one of our conveniently located offices in Massachusetts or Rhode Island.
If you’ve been told you’re not a candidate for dental implants due to bone loss, you are likely a candidate for bone grafting. Bone grafting is a process by which bone tissue from your own jaw, hip or tibia, or another compatible donor source, is used to repair sites with inadequate bone structure due to trauma, injury, advanced gum disease or chronic tooth loss.
What to expect during dental bone graft
Before a bone graft an oral examination which will require dental x-rays is performed in order to get a look at the condition of your jaw bone and the amount of bone loss present. Once your dentist has analyzed your condition they can map out a dedicated treatment plan for your needs. During a bone grafting procedure the area is first numbed to prevent pain during the treatment. Dental sedation such as a local anesthetic is available if needed so be sure to talk to your dentist about dental sedation options. Next, gum tissue is moved back so that there is room for the grafted material to be placed which will repair the bone loss in the area. Finally there is a membrane layer placed over the graft to protect it and the gum is moved and stitched shut in order to protect the bone.
What are the risks to bone grafting
Bone grafting is an incredibly safe procedure with minimal risks involved. As with any surgical procedure, Infection and possible bleeding are possible during bone grafts. Be sure to speak to your dentist about any concerns you might have about risks when performing oral surgery.
What can I eat after a bone graft?
Similar to tooth extraction, you should generally avoid hard foods for the first few days after bone graft surgery. Foods such as yogurt and smoothies are safe to eat. As the healing process continues you can gradually add hard foods to your diet again.
Can I drive home after a bone graft?
Unless you have undergone a form of dental sedation, it is safe for you to drive home following the procedure. If you have undergone sedation then you may need to plan for a ride to take you home from the dental office following your surgery.
Recovery from bone graft surgery
Pain and swelling are normal following a bone graft procedure and typically last a few days. You can hold an ice pack on the outside of your mouth against the affected area to help manage any swelling you are experiencing. Apply ice in 20 minute intervals for the best results. Your dentist may provide you with antibiotics or medication after the procedure. It is important to take the fully prescribed medications even if you feel completely fine to prevent the possibility of an infection returning. You may feel a sand-like texture around where the bone graft took place which is normal. These should go away after a few days but if they persist and you are concerned you can call your dentist to make sure that your recovery is proceeding healthily. You can return to normal activity such as work or school the day following your procedure without any issues. Avoid strenuous physical activity for up to 2 days following the procedure to avoid the risk of causing damage to the graft as it heals.
When can I receive an implant after a bone graft?
It takes approximately 3 months for the bone graft to fully heal and be ready for a dental implant. During this time, the graft is ‘maturing’ and becoming part of your natural bone structure. Your dentist will plan out a time for a follow up appointment where they can prepare for dental implants.
There are a variety of reasons why tooth extraction may be needed. As young adults, you might have had wisdom teeth removed and as we get older, tooth removal may be necessary in the event of a tooth becoming damaged, decayed, or infected. Tooth extraction falls into one of two categories: simple and surgical extractions. Beacon Dental Health’s skilled general Dentists/oral surgeons perform general and wisdom tooth extractions through minimally invasive techniques.
Simple tooth extractions
A simple tooth extraction is performed when the tooth is visible. During a simple extraction, the dentist first will numb the area around the tooth. A tooth visible above the gumline can then be removed by loosening the tooth using a tool called an elevator and then easily removed with an instrument. Simple tooth extractions can be performed in less than an hour and has a much shorter healing time than surgical extractions. If needed, multiple teeth can be removed during a simple tooth extraction during one visit. However, it may be recommended to undergo oral sedation if you plan on having multiple extractions.
Surgical tooth extraction
A surgical tooth extraction is a more complex procedure that involves the removal of teeth not visible under the gumline. Surgical extraction is needed when a tooth has been deeply impacted or has not yet erupted. Dental x-rays can often show if a tooth, such as your wisdom teeth, are going to grow in crooked or cause overcrowding where surgical extraction may benefit your overall oral health by preemptively preventing any problems that could arise. Additional reasons for a surgical tooth extraction may include if the tooth has long roots which could potentially cause damage to the jawbone or teeth that have been severely damaged, where most of the tooth is missing. If little of the tooth is visible due to damage it won’t be possible for your dental team to use the tools to properly remove the tooth using a simple extraction procedure.
Recovery from tooth extraction
Your dental team will cover the recovery process before you leave. In most cases it takes about 24 hours or before patients begin to feel better following a tooth extraction depending on the complexity of the extraction performed. During this time it is important to keep the mouth clean by using a saltwater rinse to avoid infections. As the area around the tooth heals blood may fill in the pocket created which helps to aid along the healing process. If the blood clot is removed or disturbed during the healing process it could lead to a condition called dry socket.
How to avoid dry socket after tooth extraction
Dry socket is an uncommon risk following tooth extraction that can occur if proper care during recovery is not taken. As a result, there are some things that you should avoid after your procedure.
Do not use a straw for 48 hours. Using a straw creates suction in the mouth that could pull away at the blood clot which has formed at the extraction site. Drinking out of glasses without a straw is safer during recovery.
Eat soft foods. Hard, crunchy, or tough foods that require a lot of chewing to break down add additional stress to the area where a tooth extraction has occurred. Constant chewing in particular could loosen up the blood clot causing it to open up and slowing the healing process. It is advised in most cases that you only eat soft foods for about 2 weeks following your dental extraction procedure. Your dentist can provide a list of foods that are recommended, but pudding, yogurt, bananas, oatmeal, and similar items are the best things to eat. Chips, popcorn, and other foods that commonly get stuck in your teeth are the types of food that should best be avoided.
Do not brush the extraction site. During the recovery process, you should still brush your other teeth as normal, but avoid brushing the extraction site for about 4 days while it heals. Instead, use a saline rinse or saltwater mixture and gently wash your mouth to prevent infection. Even soft bristles on a toothbrush can dislodge the blood clot or cause it to open up and slow the healing process.
Avoid smoking or tobacco. Smoking and tobacco use are easy ways for the tooth extraction site to become infected while it is recovering. Smoking is bad for your overall oral health, even without undergoing recovery from tooth extraction.