Periodontal disease is the leading cause of bone loss in the oral cavity, though there are others such as ill-fitting dentures and facial trauma. The bone grafting procedure is an excellent way to replace lost bone tissue and encourage natural bone growth. Bone grafting is a versatile and predictable procedure which fulfills a wide variety of functions.
A bone graft may be required to create a stable base for dental implant placement, to halt the progression of gum disease or to make the smile appear more aesthetically pleasing.
There are several types of dental bone grafts. The following are the most common:
Autogenous bone graft – In this type of graft the bone is removed from a site distant to the surgical site and implanted into the surgical site.
Allograft – Synthetic bone (man made) can be created in the laboratory and used in the bone grafting procedure. Bone can also be obtained from a bone bank (cadaver bone).
Xenograft – This is the implantation of bovine (cow) bone. A xenograft is perfectly safe and has been used successfully for many years. Ample bone can be obtained and no secondary donor site is necessary.
Reasons for bone grafting
There are a wide variety of reasons why bone grafting may be the best option for restoring the jaw bone.
Dental implants – Implants are the preferred replacement method for missing teeth because they restore full functionality to the mouth, however, they must be firmly anchored to the jawbone to be effective. If the jawbone lacks the necessary quality or quantity of bone, bone grafting can strengthen and thicken the bone in the implant site.
Sinus lift – A sinus lift entails elevating the sinus membrane and grafting bone onto the sinus floor so that implants can be securely placed.
Ridge augmentation – Ridges in the bone can occur due to trauma, injury, birth defects or severe periodontal disease. The bone graft is used to fill in the ridge and make the jawbone a uniform shape.
What does bone grafting treatment involve?
Bone grafting is a predictable procedure performed under local anesthetic. Initially, the grafting material needs to either be harvested or prepared for insertion. A small incision is made in the gum tissue and then gently separated from the bone. The bone grafting material is then placed at the affected site.
The bone regeneration process may be aided by:
Gum/bone tissue regeneration – A thin barrier (membrane) is placed below the gum line over the grafting material. This barrier creates enough space for healthy tissue to grow and separates the faster growing gum tissue from the slower growing bone cells. This means that bone cells can migrate to the protected area and grow naturally.
Bone grafting is a highly successful treatment which helps re-establish the health and stability of the grafted site.
Tissue stimulating proteins – Growth factors are available which enhance the bone grafting procedure by stimulating bone formative proteins and cells to move into the grafted site.