Bone grafting is a surgical procedure that replaces missing bone in order to repair bone fractures that are extremely complex, pose a significant health risk to the patient, or fail to heal properly.Bone generally has the ability to regenerate completely but requires a very small fracture space or some sort of scaffold to do so. Bone grafts may be autologous (bone harvested from the patient’s own body, often from the iliac crest), allograft (cadaveric bone usually obtained from a bone bank), or synthetic (often made of hydroxyapatite or other naturally occurring and biocompatible substances) with similar mechanical properties to bone. Most bone grafts are expected to be reabsorbed and replaced as the natural bone heals over a few months’ time.
Most dental bone grafting procedures are done to restore your bone to its previous form following tooth loss, gum disease or trauma. Bone grafting may also be used to maintain bone structure after tooth extraction. Restoring and maintaining facial bone structure is important for several reasons. Many dental procedures, such as dental implant placement, require that the bone be as close to its original dimension and position as possible for optimal results. Also, the jaw and other facial bones support the skin and muscle that are responsible for our outward cosmetic appearance. Without the support of the underlying bone, our faces can look prematurely aged.
While the need for bone grafting has been significantly reduced, it has not been eliminated entirely. However, in most cases it is now relegated to small minimally invasive interventions that can be managed quite easily in an ambulatory (office) setting. Furthermore, while bone grafting of earlier years involved harvesting and using large quantities of the patient’s own bone (autogenous grafts). These grafts are termed xenografts and are generally comprised only of the mineral content of natural bone, have been sterilized and have had all organic material removed. A simplified explanation for the success of this form of grafting is that a bovine bone graft is placed to act as a “biological placeholder.” Initially, it mechanically prevents the collapse of the surrounding tissues, whether that is bone or soft tissue. Then, through a process called “guided tissue regeneration,” the human body is fooled biochemically to recognize the graft as natural bone and over time resorbs and replaces it with the patient’s own native bone.
Your doctor may recommend a bone grafting procedure to help restore your jaw bone to a level suitable for dental implants. View illustrations of procedures below and discuss the details of your recommended procedure with your doctor.
When your doctor removes a damaged tooth, it leaves behind a void where the tooth was. Bone loss occurs without the tooth present to stimulate the jaw bone.
Your doctor may choose to place some allograft bone graft material in the void left behind. This will promote bone growth.
The bone graft material provides the structure for your body's cells to migrate to the void and remodel the graft into your own bone tissue. After healing your jaw bone will better support dental implants.