You may have had your tooth extracted and a bone graft placed at the same time.
About once or twice a week I get emails from around the world with patients that have had this very common (pre dental implant) procedure.
You may be worried because you can see that the bone is exposed inside your mouth.
You may also be worried because small, hard granules, pieces, or particles of bone coming out of the socket. You see white bone showing.
Most socket bone grafts have particulated bone added to the socket and are covered with some type of membrane at the same time of the surgery. The bone may be from your own body, from a human cadaver, from a cow or synthetic bone.
The bone on your cheek and lip side of your teeth in general is no thicker than 0.5mm to 2 mm at the most. When a tooth is extracted, the thin wall of bone will naturally collapse inward leaving a depression indent in your jawbone. It is that very same bone that you need to have a dental implant.
Ideally over the course of the first week, the gum heals over the top and no bone is showing at all. It is not uncommon for some bone to become exposed during the process of healing. It is also not uncommon to have some of these granules come out during the healing process.
I strongly encourage antibiotic use during most socket bone graft procedures as this will help reduce (not eliminate) the chance of infection. I routinely administer antibiotics right before your appointment so that the blood clot (scab) will have the antibiotics within it.
What do you do if you see bone or you are getting small flecks of bone coming out in your mouth? Don’t panic…see your dentist and let them know what you are experiencing. As long as you are not infected then it should not be a problem. If you have an infection of the bone graft and socket then you will likely need to continue antibiotics for a second or third round or sometime switch antibiotic families altogether. I generally prescribe an antibiotic mouth rinse also such as peridex. You will need to have some of the top pieces of bone removed.
Signs of infection would be redness, pus, pain and in some cases fever.
The most crucial thing to ensure your socket bone graft extraction success is that the procedure is done well by someone who specializes in implant dentistry. The correct choice of bone product for your situation is important but not as important as the surgeon and your healing ability.
Extraction and bone grafting at the same time is not as simple as just sticking some bone into the socket. The internal cleaning of the socket is super important. All remnants of tooth and inflammatory tissue must be removed. This is not as easy as just scooping it out. The socket must be debrided very well to get down to bare, bleeding bone and is a sensitive procedure especially when you are pulling out a failed root canal tooth.
Fractured root canal teeth are probably the most common extraction that leads to a socket bone graft. Choosing bone that comes from your own body, from a cadaver, from a cow, or totally synthetic all have their pros and cons and you must discuss these with your dentist.
The socket bone grafting for upper front tooth dental implants are critical in establishing the right amount of bone so your front tooth looks great! If there is a dent in the bone, the tooth will look long and may have open black hole triangles near the tooth.
Bottom line…some exposure of bone and bone graft migrating pieces is common, but it is preferred that all of that stays in the socket. It does not mean the graft has failed. Do not confuse a socket graft losing bone with an exposed onlay block bone graft. The rules are different.
Ramsey A. Amin, D.D.S.
Diplomate of the American Board of Oral Implantology /Implant Dentistry
Fellow-American Academy of Implant Dentistry