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Dental Bone Grafting

What is Bone Grafting

A dental bone graft is a procedure performed to increase the amount of bone in a part of the jaw where bone has been lost or where additional support is needed. Bone may be taken from elsewhere in the body and surgically fused to existing bone in the jaw. Sometimes, synthetic bone material is used. A dental bone graft is sometimes needed if further procedures, such as dental implants, are necessary or if bone loss is affecting the health of nearby gums and teeth. Read on to learn how dental bone grafts work, how the procedure is done, and what results you can expect from this procedure.

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Dental Bone Grafting

There are several ways dental bone grafting can be done, but the basic procedure is the same: A dentist or oral surgeon makes an incision in the jaw and grafts (attaches) other bone material to the jaw. A dental bone graft is usually done if someone has lost one or more adult teeth or has gum disease. Both of these conditions can cause bone loss in the jaw.
 

The preferred approach for dental bone grafting is to use your own bone from the hip, tibia, or back of the jaw. This is known as an autograft. Autografts are usually the “gold standard,” since they increase bony support in the jaw and promote faster healing and new bone formation.

Who’s a good candidate for a dental bone graft?

Here are some of the most common reasons you may need a dental bone graft:

Implants for missing teeth.

People who are going to receive implants in place of missing teeth are common candidates for dental bone grafts. Dental implants are artificial roots shaped like screws that are placed in the jawbone. A crown that matches nearby teeth is then placed atop the implant. Often, bone grafting is necessary to provide a strong enough base for an implant. In a 2016 study-trusted Source of nearly 800 people who received implants, more than half of the implant sites required bone grafting first.

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Tooth loss or gum disease

Even if you’re not receiving an implant, dental bone grafting may be necessary to support a section of the jaw that has lost bone because of tooth loss or gum disease. Bone loss can start to affect nearby teeth and gum tissue. Stabilizing the jaw with a bone graft can help prevent further bone loss and the long-term health complications that come with it. If gum disease isn’t managed effectively, it can lead to further tooth loss and even heart disease.

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Bone Loss

Other candidates for dental bone grafts include those whose appearance has been affected by bone loss. Losing bone mass in the jaw can cause the face to look shorter than it used to. If the lower jawbone loses bone mass, it can appear to protrude forward. Without healthy bone structure underneath them, the lips and muscles around them can change in appearance. The skin in the jaw area can appear more wrinkled. Bone loss in the jaw is more common among older adults, just as the odds of developing the bone-thinning condition osteoporosis increase as you get older. But a person of any age who has suffered an injury to the jaw or experienced problems related to poor dental hygiene or other health problems, such as major infections, may need a dental bone graft, too.

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How is the dental bone graft procedure done?

Here’s how the typical dental bone graft is done:

  • You’ll receive anesthesia before the procedure, and your vital signs will be monitored throughout.

  • The dental technician will clean the affected area.

  • Your surgeon will make an incision in the gum to separate it from the bone where the graft is to be placed.

  • The surgeon will place the bone material between two sections of bone that need to grow together.

  • The bone graft is secured with a dissolvable adhesive material or membrane or with special screws.

  • The incision is then sewn up to begin healing.

There are three main types of dental bone grafts procedures. Each one is useful for different circumstances affecting the jaw.

Block Bone Graft

Bone is typically taken from the back of the jawbone, near your wisdom teeth (or where your wisdom teeth once were). This is usually done in cases where there’s been significant bone loss toward the front of the jaw.​

Sinus Lift

When bone loss has occurred near the upper molars, allowing the sinuses to move down, a bone graft is done to restore upper jaw stability while the sinuses are also moved back to their proper position.

Socket Graft

The bone graft is done at the same time a tooth is extracted to avoid bone loss that might otherwise occur once the tooth is removed.

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Dental bone grafts are done to help prevent long-term health problems associated with tooth loss and gum disease as well as to provide sufficient bone material to support dental implants. This common procedure is usually safe and well tolerated, though there are risks of side effects and complications. Following your doctor’s guidance during recovery will help minimize your chances of having problems after the procedure and improve the odds of maintaining good dental health in the years ahead.