What is Bone Grafting?
Bone grafting is a term that describes a variety of procedures used to “build” bone so that dental implants can be placed or to preserve remaining teeth after an extraction or trauma. For dental implants to be successful, the jaw bone must have enough bone to support them. Tooth loss often leads to a loss of bone in the jaw surrounding the tooth. The tooth loss may be caused by periodontal (gum) disease, dental caries (cavities) and infection, injury or trauma, or a developmental defect. If the bone under your gum is not tall enough, not wide enough or both, you will need a procedure to add bone to your jaw before implants can be placed.
Bone grafting procedures typically involve grafting (adding) bone or bone-like materials to the jaw. The graft can be your own bone or processed bone obtained from a tissue bank. Grafted materials create a bone “scaffolding” that cause surrounding bone to grow into the graft or cause cells around the graft to change into bone. A graft from your own bone transplants live bone cells or a block of bone that fuses to the jaw.
Several different procedures can be used for bone augmentation. Your dentist will select one depending on the type, location and number of implants to be used. If you need a bone graft, it is important that you and your dentist discuss all of the options available to you.
Where Does the Bone Come From?
Most bone augmentation procedures involve the use of bone grafts. An excellent choice for a bone graft is your own bone. This most likely will come from your chin or ramus (the back part of your lower jaw). If your dentist cannot get enough bone from these areas, he or she may need to get bone from your hip or shin bone (tibia) instead. The hip is considered to be a better source because the hip bone can provide a large amount of bone. The marrow from either the hip or shin (tibia) contains bone-forming cells. However, bone taken from your hip requires a hospital stay and general anesthesia.
If you don’t like the idea of having bone removed from your body to be placed in your jaw, other excellent options are available. Your dentist can use materials made from the bone of human cadavers or cows. Synthetic materials also can be used for bone grafting. Newer products, such as bone morphogenetic protein-2 (BMP-2), also are available. BMP-2 stimulates certain body cells to turn into bone, without grafting. This protein occurs naturally in the body. The dental material is produced using DNA technology. You should discuss your options and their risks and benefits with your dentist before any procedures are done.
The success rate for bone grafts in the jaws for the purpose of placing dental implants is very high. However, there is always a chance that the bone graft will fail, even if your own bone was used. Bone grafts are not rejected like organ transplants. Dentists don’t know why some bone grafts fail. They do know that certain people—such as those who smoke and those with certain medical conditions—have higher risks of graft failure than others do.
A failed graft will be removed. Once the area has healed, your dentist may choose to place a second graft.
If you have questions or concerns about dental emergencies, please contact our staff at Santa Rosa Oral Surgery or just set up an appointment.