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What to Expect During Bone Grafting

If you have periodontal (gum) disease, a dentist or a gum disease expert called a periodontist may suggest a bone graft. Bone grafts can help replace the bone destroyed by serious gum disease, also called periodontitis.

Why Treatment Is Needed

Periodontitis can break down the bones and tissues that keep teeth in place. Signs and symptoms include:

  • Bad breath all the time

  • Swollen or bleeding gums

  • Loose teeth

  • Sensitive teeth

  • Mouth pain when chewing

If not treated, gum disease can lead to tooth loss.

Slowing Down Gum Disease

During a bone graft, a periodontist folds back part of the gum and cleans out problem bacteria that can make gum disease worse. Then he or she inserts the bone grafts, which work with the body to help build new bone. Bone grafts can repair damage from gum disease and boost the chances that you can keep your teeth.

In addition to a bone graft, your dentist or periodontist may suggest a procedure called guided tissue regeneration. This may be an option for you if the bone that supports your teeth has been destroyed by gum disease.

During regeneration, a periodontist inserts a tiny piece of mesh between the gum and bone after cleaning out the bacteria. This mesh acts like a shield, preventing the gum from growing into the area where the bone should be. This helps the bone grow back so that teeth can be saved, rather than pulled.

Grafting and regeneration are some of the advanced methods that periodontists can use to help fight gum disease. Scientists are still looking at how these new discoveries can help people keep their teeth longer.

Preventing Tooth Problems

To avoid gum disease in the first place:

  • Gently brush teeth twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste, paying special attention to the gumline.

  • Floss between teeth daily.

  • See your dentist regularly.

“Periodontal Disease. Engineering the Future of Care.” National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, National Institutes of Health, September 7, 2010. www.nidcr.nih.gov/Research/facingthefuture/periodontal.htm. Accessed 2013.

“Periodontal (Gum) Disease: Causes, Symptoms and Treatments.” National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, National Institutes of Health, October 2, 2012. www.nidcr.nih.gov/OralHealth/Topics/GumDiseases/PeriodontalGumDisease.htm. Accessed 2013.

“Periodontal Treatment and Procedures.” American Academy of Periodontology. www.perio.org/consumer/procedures.htm. Accessed 2013.

“Regenerative Procedures.” American Academy of Periodontology. www.perio.org/consumer/regeneration.htm. Accessed 2013.

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