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Bone Grafting

Bone grafting is often closely associated with dental restorations such as bridge work and dental implants. In the majority of cases, the success of a restorative procedure can hinge on the height, depth, and width of the jawbone at the implant or pontic site. When the jawbone has receded or sustained significant damage, the implant(s) cannot be supported on this unstable foundation or if significant bone loss has occurred the pontic of a fixed bridge cannot be shaped in an ideal fashion and so in these cases bone grafting is usually recommended for the ensuing restoration.

There are several major factors that affect jaw bone volume:

  • Periodontal Disease – Periodontal disease can affect and permanently damage the jaw bone that supports the teeth. Affected areas progressively worsen until the teeth become unstable.
  • Tooth Extraction – Studies have shown that patients who have experienced a tooth extraction subsequently lose 40-60% of the bone surrounding the extraction site during the following three years. Loss of bone results in what is called a “bone defect”.
  • Injuries and Infections – Dental injuries and other physical injuries resulting from a blow to the jaw can cause the bone to recede. Infections can also cause the jaw bone to recede in a similar way.

Reasons for bone grafts

Bone grafting is a highly successful procedure in most cases. It is also a preferable alternative to having missing teeth, diseased teeth, or tooth deformities. Bone grafting can increase the width of the jawbone and fill in voids and defects in the bone.  It is limited in its ability to affect deficiencies in height. 

There are essentially two basic ways in which bone grafting can positively impact the health and stability of the teeth and the subsequent restoration.

Jaw Stabilization – Bone grafting stabilizes and helps restore the jaw foundation for restorative or implant surgery. Deformities can also be corrected and the restructuring of the bone can provide added support.

Preservation – Bone grafting can be used to limit or prevent bone recession following a tooth extraction, periodontal disease, or other invasive processes.  When judicially used this can make future restorations more predictable.

 If periodontal disease is present or the adjacent teeth are in poor condition, these factors need to be fully addressed before the bone grafting procedure can begin. We recommend panoramic x-rays in order to assess the precise depth and width of the existing bone. On occasion, a CAT scan may be recommended to determine the bone condition. 

Autogenous Bone Graft - Harvested from your own boney cells (usually from the implant site or someothe posterior part of the lower jaw or the chin). This method is usually preferred because it produces the most predictable results.

Allograft Bone Graft - Synthetic bone is used in this type of graft, not cadaver bone..

Xenograft - Mineral only bovine bone is used in this type of graft.

The bone grafting procedure can often take several months to complete.  The grafted bone will fuse with the existing bone and the migration of cells will cause firm adhesion and cell growth. Supplementing the jaw with bone will result in greater bone mass to help support and anchor the implant(s) or the fixed bridge. On occasion, a synthetic membrane may be used to cover the graft. This membrane prevents soft tissue and bacterial invasions, and encourages new bone growth. The surgery does not require an overnight stay, and you will be provided with comprehensive instructions for your post-operative care. Medications may be prescribed to help manage infection, discomfort and swelling.

If you have questions about bone grafting or would like to schedule a consultation, please contact our office.

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