Bone loss in the jaw bone is common when one or more teeth have been lost due to injury, decay, or trauma. Without the tooth in place to stimulate the jaw bone, the bone around the missing tooth will begin to deteriorate. Over time, the jaw bone may deteriorate to such an extent that there may not be enough bone to place dental implants. In cases such as these, your dentist may recommend having a bone grafting procedure by an experienced doctor.
Bone grafting is the replacement or augmentation of missing bone around the teeth and in areas where teeth have been lost. It is often recommended prior to certain treatments, such as a dental implant procedure.
There are three types of bone graft procedures: autogenous, allograft, and xenograft.
Autogenous grafts take bone from one area of the patient’s body and transplant it to the location in the mouth being restored. The bone is usually taken from nonessential bones such as the chin area. The benefit of an autogenous bone graft is that the bone used comes solely from the patient, thus reducing the likelihood of rejection and infection. The bone is also still “live”, meaning it still has active cellular material.
Allografts also use human bone transplanted to the area in the mouth being restored. However, allografts do not use the patient’s own bone. Instead, the bone usually comes from cadaver bone donated to bone banks. All allograft bone material is carefully screened and is considered very safe. Xenografts also replace bone in the area requiring treatment, however the bone comes from a non-human source. Usually the non-human source is bovine, or cow.
Allografts and Xenografts are used because they do not require a second surgical site to harvest bone and ample amounts of bone can be easily attained. Xenografts are often preferred when extra bone is needed to proceed with a dental implant procedure.
Local anesthesia is used to numb the area where the bone will be removed as well as the location where the bone will be augmented. An incision is made in the gums around where the bone will be augmented. This is done so that the doctor can see exactly how much bone will be needed before harvesting it from the patient if an autogenous graft is being performed.
Next, the doctor will make a cut in the gums below the lower front teeth in order to expose the chin bone. Your doctor will then remove a part of the bone along with any bone marrow. This incision is then closed with stitches.
The bone removed from the chin will then be anchored in place to the jaw bone with small titanium screws. The doctor may place a mixture of your bone marrow and some bone grafting material around the bone graft to help speed healing. The incision is then closed with stitches. Your dental implant procedure will not take place until your mouth has healed completely.
After the procedure you will likely be given antibiotics as well as pain medication. You will be asked to follow a restricted diet of soft foods such as pastas, mashed potatoes, and applesauce for a short time following your bone grafting procedure. It will often be about six to nine months following the bone graft before your doctor will be able to perform your dental implant procedure.
If you are looking to replace missing teeth with a dental implant procedure, a bone graft is sometimes required to provide enough bony support. Call your doctor today to schedule your consultation.