You may have a friend or family member who has been through bone grafting. Bone grafting may sound intimidating, but most patients report it ends up being easier than they think. Contrary to popular opinion, bone grafting is normally a minor surgical procedure done in the dental office. It is used to build up bone in the area of your jaw that supports your teeth. A small incision is made in your gum to expose the bone beneath it and then grafting material is added.
Bone grafting is done when you do not have enough natural bone to support a dental implant that you need for one or several missing teeth. Typically, the grafting material is processed bone that serves as a scaffold or framework around which your body will deposit new bone cells. The grafting material will eventually be absorbed by your body and replaced by your own new bone.
This grafting material can come from a variety of sources. It could be from your own body, from an animal, or even another human donor ( I assure you this is processed to make it sterile and safe). It can even be synthetic and can come in a variety of forms, such as powder, granules, putty, and gel. The latter can be injected through a syringe. Let me review this in more detail:
Types of Bone Grafts
There are different types of bone grafts that are harvested from a variety of sources. They are:
- Autograft: In this type of bone graft, the dentist takes bone from one site in your body and transplants it into your gums. This type of graft involves two surgical sites. One from which the bone is harvested and the other where the bone is deposited.
- Allograft: This is laboratory-processed human bone from a deceased donor that comes from a tissue bank.
- Xenograft: This bone graft comes from an animal, most typically a cow.
- Alloplast: This type of bone graft uses synthetic materials.
The procedure for placing a bone graft requires only local anesthesia, though oral or IV sedatives can be used to achieve a higher state of relaxation. After the surgery, there could be some soreness in the area where the bone graft has been placed. This can be treated with over-the-counter (OTC) anti-inflammatory medication and pain relievers, as well as ice therapy.
Though the pain will go away quickly and you will be back to normal soon, the graft itself may take six months to mature enough to be able to receive your dental implant. Every patient is unique but every implant needs to be completely encased in bone. There needs to be at least 1 mm of bone around a dental implant and 2 to 3 mm, is needed if the implant is next to another tooth or another implant.
The timing of bone grafts is extremely important. Bone grafts can often be placed at the same time as the implant, but in cases where there is minimal bone to start, we have to place a graft before the implant and wait. While it is more convenient to place the graft and the implant at the same time, sometimes the clinical situation does not allow for this.
If the bone graft has to be placed before the implant, your dentist and surgeon need to follow the timelines set out for treatment. If the implant is placed too soon after the graft is placed, the latter will not have the time to heal and become solid. If the implant is placed too long after the graft is placed, there may be resorption and resorption of the graft with loss of bone volume.
At Harbour Pointe Oral Surgery & Advanced Dental Implant Center, we specialize in bone grafting, using different types of bone grafts. You can consult with us for information about which bone graft is best for you. We treat patients with mild to severe bone loss and understand each patient has a specific goal for their treatment.
So, now you know all about bone grafting. We will attempt to minimize the “scariness” of this procedure and can help restore your smile and self-confidence. There are different bone grafting techniques for mild, moderate, and severe bone loss. We hope to discuss this with you more at a consult!