If your jaw bone is weak or thin, then your dentist will likely recommend a procedure called a bone graft prior to your dental implant surgery. A bone graft procedure is surgical, but it's a pretty routine procedure that implant dentists perform on a regular basis. Still, having some of your questions answered before your bone graft surgery can help you feel more comfortable with the process.
Where does the grafted bone come from?
The answer to this question, somewhat frustratingly, is "it depends." If possible, the dentist will generally try to source the bone from your own body. They may remove some bone from the roof of your mouth. This approach comes with the greatest assurance that the bone will easily anneal with your jaw bone. However, if you do not have enough extra bone to spare, your dental surgeon may instead use cadaver bone from a donor. There is a slightly higher risk of the bone graft not taking if this approach is taken, but most surgeries are still successful. Your dental surgeon should be able to tell you whether they plan to use your bone or cadaver bone during your bone graft procedure.
Will you be under anesthesia for the bone graft surgery?
You won't be put under general anesthesia. In other words, you will remain awake while the bone graft is being performed. However, your surgeon will use a local anesthetic to numb your jaw prior to the procedure. This anesthetic is a simple injection, which is generally given in your gums or cheek. If you've ever had a cavity filled, then you were probably given the same or a very similar anesthetic prior to that procedure.
How much pain will you endure during the recovery?
Your dental surgeon does need to make an incision in your gums in order to perform the bone graft. As such, you will have some discomfort after surgery. However, this discomfort can usually be managed with over-the-counter pain relievers, such as acetaminophen. You'll want to stick to soft foods for a few days after the surgery in order to allow the site to heal. Play it by ear. When it's more comfortable for you to eat chewier foods, you can start eating them.
Hopefully having had these questions answered has helped you feel more comfortable with your upcoming bone graft surgery. Remember, this is a rather common procedure, and most patients have excellent outcomes.