Dental bone grafting is performed to build up the jawbone. In cases where the jaw bone is damaged or receded, bone grafting is performed as a preparation step prior to a dental implant or restoration. These restorations require sufficient jaw bone volume for optimal chances of success.
Jaw bone volume can be insufficient for a number of reasons:
Periodontal (gum) disease and infections – progressively attacks gum tissue and will eventually damage the jaw bone if left untreated. Other infections can also diminish bone.
Tooth extraction – it is estimated that following a tooth extraction, the patient loses 40-60% of the bone surrounding the tooth site within three years.
Injury – blows to the jaw or other dental injuries can cause the jaw to recede. Bone grafting treatment can take several months to complete. It is performed as an outpatient surgery (no overnight stay.)
The extraction and grafting sites are numbed with local anesthetic, then small incisions are made to access the bone. The bone is harvested, then anchored to the grafting site. Both sites are closed with sutures. The new bone will eventually fuse with existing bone and encourage new bone growth.
There is more than one bone grafting technique, but they can be grouped into two types.
The first, and most extensive type of bone grafting is always done as a separate surgery from the implant placement. This type of graft is intended to make large changes to the shape and size of the dental ridge so that a stable implant can be placed, usually several months later. These procedures are generally performed by specialists such as oral surgeons or periodontists.
In the second type of bone grafting, the jaw may already have enough bone to place the implant, but not enough bone to completely cover the sides of the implant. These types of grafts are generally small in size and are performed at the time of implant placement.