Jawbone loss can happen for several reasons. The most common is gum disease. It usually starts as a mild case of plaque which if not treated will grow, and eventually start eating into the jawbone. Gum disease is quite common which means that jawbone loss is also quite common. Accidents can also lead to loss of bone in the jaw. When this happens it can be impossible to place a dental implant. A dental implant is inserted into the jawbone and then allowed to heal so that a prosthetic can be mounted onto it.
Once someone suffers loss of jawbone the best thing a dental surgeon can do to restore full oral function is to do a bone graft. A small piece of healthy bone tissue will be extracted from another part of the body and over the coming months it will heal and become part of the jaw, forming a foundation for the dental implant. Oral bone grafts, while effective, are slow to heal. In a young person who is healthy it can take up to 3 months the bone graft to heal, but in an older person, who is the typical patient for this kind of procedure a bone graft can take 6 months to heal.
That is where platelet-rich plasma comes in. Platelets are a component of blood that promotes healing because they release growth factor which can help any part of the body regenerate faster. Further, platelets are very effective in promoting clotting, which means that the dentist is able to stop bleeding immediately after the procedure. The great thing about platelet-rich plasma in oral surgery is that an experienced dental surgeon can do it right there in his office so long as he has the right equipment.
Additional benefits of platelet-rich plasma in oral surgery
• It is very convenient, and because it is a simple procedure that only involves the drawing of blood it doesn’t take long neither does it increase the cost of the bone graft by a very significant amount.
• The procedure is completely safe as it is done using the patient’s own blood – there is no risk of passing on any diseases. The procedure also uses a very small amount of blood and so long is one is relatively healthy it will not affect them in any way.
• Some dentists will recommend that patients check into a hospital to have the PRP procedure done before they can come in for their bone graft. This is not necessary – so long as you can find an oral surgeon who has done the procedure before and who has the equipment in their office they can do it for you in no time at an affordable cost.
• Most patients who are looking at getting bone grafts are eligible for this procedure. In other words you have the opportunity to have your dental implant placed in a matter of weeks rather than months.
How to prepare for platelet-rich plasma dental surgery
The most important thing you can do for yourself is to find a dental surgeon who is familiar with this procedure. It is relatively new and although it is straightforward you don’t want to take any chances. Ask the dental surgeon how many times he has done it and whether all the procedures he has undertaken have been successful.
• Make sure that you talk to your dentist about what your procedure will entail. A good dentist will tell you what you can expect every step of the way including what your finished prosthetic tooth will look like.
• Make sure that you have someone to take you home after your procedure. The dentist will use anesthetic – the kind will depend on the dentist and your requirements – and you should not attempt to drive yourself home afterwards.
• It is a good idea to prepare and freeze a few soft meals in advance of your procedure so that when you get back home you don’t have to cook.
• Make sure that you stick to the diet that the dentist recommends. You shouldn’t eat any chewy foods – you may have to survive on smoothies ‘for the first day or two and mash for a few weeks. You should also not bite on any hard objects or foods including candy.
• You should eat a balanced diet. The plasma that will be infused into your bone graft will help you heal faster but you will do even better if you eat three healthy meals a day, hydrate and avoid processed foods.
Lastly, your dentist will give you antibiotics and painkillers before your leave his surgery. You should the painkillers only if you are in pain but make sure to take the other medications as prescribed to avoid infection.