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Bone Grafting

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Bone Graft Procedure

Closely associated with dental restoration procedures including bridges and implants, bone grafting can fill in where the jaw bone is lacking. Often, how successful a restoration is depends on the width, depth and height of the jawbone at the site of the restoration. In cases where the jawbone has been significantly damaged or has receded, implants and other restorations cannot be adequately supported by what remains and bone grafting is the recommended course of action for the best chance at successful restoration.

A number of factors impact the volume of jaw bone:
  • Periodontal disease: Gum disease can cause permanent damage to the jaw, causing it to be less able to support the teeth. Areas of damage get worse over time and eventually teeth destabilize.
  • Tooth extraction: Research indicates that tooth extraction often leads to loss of 40 to 60 percent of the bone surrounding the extraction site over the course of the next three years. Such bone loss results in what dentist’s call a bone defect.
  • Infections and injuries: Injuries from a blow to the jaw and other causes can lead to receding of the bone. In the same way, damage caused by infection can cause the jawbone to receded as well.

Reasons For Bone Grafting

In most cases, bone grafting is very successful. It is also a significantly better alternative than having missing or diseased teeth or deformities of the jaw bone. Also, bone grafting can increase the width or height of the jawbone to fill in defects and voids.

Bone grafting positively impacts the health and stability of teeth in two primary ways:
  1. Jaw stabilization: By restoring the jaw foundation before implant surgery or other restorative work, bone grafting can lead to greater stability. In addition, deformities can be eliminated and bone can be restructured to provide additional support.
  2. Preservation: A bone graft procedure can also limit or help prevent bone recession after periodontal disease treatment, a tooth extraction or other kinds of invasive dental processes.

Oral Examination

The process starts with the dentist carefully examining the area in question to determine the overall condition of teeth and gums. If gum disease is observed or the nearby teeth are in bad condition, these situations must be addressed in full before bone grafting can be done. The dentist will also suggest panoramic x-rays in most cases to determine precisely the depth and width of existing bone. In some cases, a CAT scan may be required to determine the condition of the bone. Depending on the information gained from these tests, the dentist may choose to numb the area and do an exploratory procedure to determine how much bone is required and what approach will work best.

What is Involved In Bone Grafting?

There is more than one kind of bone graft. The dentist will do testing to determine the best option for you. Choices include:
  • Autogeneous Bone Graft: Because this method takes bone from a patient’s own body, this is the preferred method and provides the best, most predictable results. Bone is usually taken from the lower back portion of the jaw or chin.
  • Allograft Bone Graft: In this case, synthetic bone or cadaver bone is used for grafting into the location of the bone loss.
  • Xenograft Bone Graft: For this type of graft, cow bone is used.
A bone grafting procedure may take several months. Simply put, a patient’s own bone or bone from another source is added to the site in question. The added bone will fuse with the bone already in that location and migration of cells between the two will cause cell growth and firm adhesion. This supplementation of the jaw bone results in added bone mass that helps support and anchor implants and other restorations.

The surgery itself involves the dentist numbing the extraction and grafting sites with a local anesthetic. A small cut is made and the receiving site is prepared for the new bone. In some cases, a synthetic membrane may be added to cover newly grafted bone. If this is the case, the membrane is to prevent bacterial invasion and invasion by soft tissue and to encourage new bone growth. The procedure does not require staying overnight, and follow-up instructions are provided that explain the post-op care that is required for good results. Medicine will be prescribed by the dentist to help with managing infection, swelling and discomfort.

If you think you may need a bone graft, call (619) 640-5100 for a free consultation with Dr. Paige Woods, DDS.