What is a bone graft? Do I need one?

Bone Grafting Procedures are Commonly Needed Before Placing Implants:

In order to place an implant the jawbone must have a certain amount of thickness (width), length and density.   Sometimes when a tooth and its surrounding structures have suffered from things such as infection or bone resorption the site can be deemed unsuitable for the placement of  an implant unless bone grafting is done to create additional bone to stabilize the implant.

During a bone grafting procedure, the added bone will be placed into the socket of the missing tooth or extraction site .  The bone graft itself can come from many sources.

One of the most common sources used today to create additional bone for denta implant stability is bovine (cow) bone  which is classified as a xenograft.   Often times, the bone grafted material (depending on its source)  will act as a scaffold for your native bone to form over it or potentially can even induce your own body to form additional bone in the grafted area.

Another type of bone grafts is autogenoeous grafting, or a graft taken from the patient’s own body.  There are many places in the patient’s body that he bone may be taken from.  Most commonly the bone is taken from the mandible though additional potential donor sites include but are not limited to the chin, skull, hip or leg.  The advantage of autogeneous graft is that it is your body’s own bone with the obvious disadvantage being that it requires an additional time donor site surgery as well as surgical time thereby causing the patient potentially more discomfort and a longer healing time.  There is also a limit to the amount of bone that we can harvest from an autogenous source.

Grafts may also come from human cadavers with these types of grafts being called allografts.  Allografts come from tissue banks or bone banks that have very strict guidelines and safety protocols.   These types of grafts  have been used in medicine and dentistry for many years with a good safety track record.

These are just some of types of bone grafting materials that are being used today to help create more stability and bone around dental implants.   This technology is always evolving and we remain on the cutting edge of this technology though we are also cautious to use techniques which are the most likely to be successful for you.

Your dentist will recommend the type of grafting, if any, that is the best for you.

Once a graft is placed it takes 4 -6 months for the graft to osseointergrate with the patient’s natural bone.  Once the bone has reached a desired density and shape an implant may be placed in the bone.  Usually the implant will then take another 4-6 month to osseointergrate with the patient’s bone before the cosmetic restoration can be placed acting as a fully functioning tooth.

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