What is Bone Grafting?

Bone grafting is a safe and highly successful procedure that involves “building up” or adding bone to the jaw. Bone grafts can be placed in a site where there is no longer a tooth or around an existing tooth or implant. The bone graft material comes from a human donor or in some cases from an animal source. The bone is mixed with growth factors to aid in healing. After the bone is placed, it is covered with a membrane, which covers and protects the new bone, and everything is sewn into place to allow for healing. Bone grafts normally take 3 to 6 months to fuse and become a strong, integrated part of the existing bone.

When is bone grafting recommended?

There are several situations in which patients can benefit from a bone graft. When you come in for your consultation, Dr. Dow assesses your bone levels and determines if and what type of a bone graft is necessary. Types of bone grafts include socket preservation to fill in bone following removal of a tooth, augmentation grafting to build-up bone that was previously lost, or bone grafting around a tooth to help strengthen its support.

Socket Preservation

When a tooth is removed, it leaves an opening in the jawbone called a “socket”. In the absence of tooth roots, the jaw bone atrophies, or shrinks. This can lead to further tooth loss, and compromise the integrity of the jaw bone.
To prevent this, when a tooth is removed, bone graft is placed within the empty socket to significantly delay any bone atrophy. Dr. Dow then covers the site with a natural fiber material that facilitates healing. After the area has healed, your jaw will provide a viable foundation for a dental implant, the one restorative solution capable of permanently halting jawbone atrophy.

Bone Augmentation

If there is significant bone loss or a very small amount of bone present prior to tooth removal, bone augmentation may be needed. Several types of bone regenerative procedures can be performed in order to increase the height and width of the jaw bone to allow for dental implants. Procedures aimed at growing the jaw ridge are often referred to as ridge augmentation, whereas procedures aimed at growing the height of the jawbone toward the sinuses is referred to as sinus augmentation.

Bone Grafting Around a Tooth (Guided Tissue Regeneration)

Guided Tissue Regeneration (GTR) “regenerates” the previously lost gum tissue and bone supporting the tooth. Guided tissue regeneration is able to stimulate growth of the gum tissue and bone previously lost to disease, injury or atrophy, by creating a more solid foundation for natural teeth and implants. The procedure is often accomplished by utilizing a membrane that is inserted over the bony defect in combination with a bone graft. The membrane effectively separates the soft tissue from the bone, thereby creating space for bone to grow. The bone graft helps stimulate bone growth or holds the space for your own bone to regenerate.  By utilizing our cone beam CT scan, our ability to assess the shape, size and extent of bone loss is improved greatly.

Bone Grafting Around an Implant

If a dental implant can be placed at the same time as a tooth is removed, then healing time can be greatly reduced. Because a dental implant is not shaped exactly the same as the root of a tooth, bone graft needs to be placed to fill the gaps around the implant. After an implant has integrated, it may develop bone loss due to peri-implant disease, which is similar to periodontal disease. The treatment for this condition is often cleaning around the implant and placing a bone graft. To learn more about this condition please visit Dental Implant Problems.