Dental Care

Dental Bone Graft

A dental bone graft is performed to restore or replace bone in the jaw that has been lost or damaged. 

Bone loss or destruction can be caused by several things, including periodontal disease or a traumatic injury.  It can even be caused by removable dentures that fit improperly. 

A bone grafting procedure can be used to augment existing bone and facilitate the placement of dental implants, improve the fit of a removable prosthetic dental appliance, or improve the appearance of a patient's smile when a tooth has been lost. 

For example, when a patient loses a tooth, the bone surrounding the site collapses.  A dental bone graft procedure can be used to preserve the bone surrounding the site of a missing tooth, either to enable a later dental implant or for aesthetic purposes.

Types of Procedures

The grafting procedure can be as simple as harvesting bone from the patient himself, and then grafting that harvested bone onto the patient's existing bone tissue. 

This type of dental bone grafting procedure is called an autogenous bone graft (sometimes shortened to "autograft").  An autogenous bone graft uses the patient's own bone and tends to provide better results than other types of dental bone grafts, although it does have the disadvantage of requiring two separate surgical procedures. 

One surgery is required to harvest the bone, while a separate, subsequent surgery is required to perform the actual bone graft).

Most oral surgeons believe the best material for a bone graft is the patient's own bone, which is typically harvested from somewhere in the patient's body (typically the jaw or the hip).  Because no third-party donor is involved, an autogenous bone graft does not carry any risk of disease transmission and there is virtually no risk of the bone graft being rejected. 

Other types of bone graft procedures are also available, however.  These alternative procedures use synthetic materials or bone harvested from human cadavers (called "allografts") or animals (called "xenografts").

The Purpose

A dental implant patient must have enough bone in the jaw to permit the secure placement of the implant. 

Periodontal disease, infections, developmental defects and trauma are some of the factors that can affect how much bone is present at the site of the proposed dental implant. 

In the past, if a patient's bone volume at the site was insufficient to permit implant placement, that patient would be ruled out as a candidate for a dental implant.  Fortunately, because of today's bone grafting procedures, more patients than ever before can be considered to be suitable candidates for dental implants.

When bone has been lost but a dental implant would be advantageous, bone augmentation can allow the placement of the implant.  Bone augmentation procedures typically involve the grafting of bone or bone-like synthetic materials to the jaw. 

After a period of several months, the grafted bone or materials fuse with the patient's existing bone, allowing the dental implant to then be placed.

Deciding on a Specific Type of Grafting Procedure

If you are in need of a dental implant but have insufficient bone volume to permit the secure placement of the implant, your dentist will select the specific dental bone graft procedure that's appropriate for the type, location and number of implants you require. 

If your particular situation requires bone augmentation by means of a dental bone graft procedure, make sure your dentist explains all your options thoroughly.

It is important for you to have a good understanding of everything that's involved in a dental bone graft, so thoroughly discussing the procedure with your dentist and asking any questions you might have are essential. 

For example, you need to be aware that the typical waiting period between a bone augmentation procedure and the actual placement of a dental implant at the site ranges from six to twelve months, although some dentists might place the implant sooner. 

You must also be comfortable with the source of the bone graft material to be used in your bone augmentation procedure.  Some patients feel more comfortable with bone harvested from somewhere within their own body. 

Others don't want to undergo an operation to harvest the bone and then a second operation to actually perform the bone graft, so these patients prefer bone harvested from a human cadaver or a bone-like synthetic material for their dental bone graft procedures. 

You'll need to weigh the alternatives and decide which source of bone grafts for dental implants you feel most comfortable with.


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