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What Is a Dental Implant Bone Graft?

A bone graft may be necessary before dental implants can be installed.
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  • Written By: A. Pasbjerg
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 29 September 2014
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When a person needs to have a tooth replaced with a false one, an anchor must be inserted into the jawbone to hold it in place. Sometimes, if the area has been damaged or eroded by periodontal disease or other infections, there may not be enough bone to support the implant. In these cases, the dentist will need to do a dental implant bone graft, a procedure that builds up the bone tissue and also helps promote bone growth.

The best place to get tissue for a dental implant bone graft is from the patient. Sometimes bone can be harvested from the implant site while the dentist is drilling it to prepare for the procedure, or from other areas in the mouth such as the chin. In other cases, bone needs to come from other parts of the patient’s body, such as the hips. This type of bone extraction will be performed in a hospital by a doctor, who will then provide the tissue to the dentist for the graft.

If bone cannot be taken from the patient, there are other options available. Tissue can come from bone banks, where bone harvested from cadavers is stored for use in medical and dental procedures. Synthetic materials may also be used, though actual bone tissue is preferable for grafts and usually yields better results.

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The dentist performing the dental implant bone graft will insert the new tissue into the appropriate area of the jawbone, filling in gaps or defects as needed. Once the graft is complete, he or she will often use a barrier membrane that protects the area by keeping soft tissues cells from growing into it and affecting the bone growth. Sutures, tacks, or screws may need to be used as well to secure the graft or the membrane in place.

As with any surgical procedure, there are some risks and side effects associated with having a bone graft. The area may be quite painful and the patient may need pain medication. The graft location can be susceptible to infection. Some patients may have an allergic reaction or reject the graft material.

When a dental implant bone graft is required for an implant, it can add a significant amount of time to overall procedure. Typically there is a three- to nine-month waiting period after the graft before the implant and then dental reconstruction can be performed. The dentist needs to ensure that the bone is completely healed and is sufficient to support the implant.

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pastanaga
Post 3

@croydon - Dentists don't mention it because most of the time they don't need to. That kind of injury is associated with OCD rather than just normal anxiety about cleaning your teeth properly.

We should all be thankful that bone grafting of this kind is even possible. It's actually really amazing that they can do this, basically grow a new piece of bone onto your jaw and replace teeth. Once it would have been impossible and even now it's not common.

croydon
Post 2

@irontoenail - Just be careful you don't overdo it. Something dentists don't tend to mention is that it's possible to brush your teeth too much, or to hurt your mouth in other ways in trying to clean your teeth.

If you brush your teeth too much, particularly if you use one of those abrasive tooth whitening pastes, you can end up taking off too much enamel which can lead to the tooth needing to be taken out, since you can't grow back enamel.

And mouth wash has been shown to increase the risk of mouth cancer, which might also lead to you needing bone grafts and dental implants.

Moderation is the key. Brush and floss twice a day and use mouth wash once or twice a week and you're better off than if you try to use them every hour.

irontoenail
Post 1

I've been having a lot of pain in my jaw lately and I was starting to get really worried that I was experiencing some kind of bone erosion. My teeth didn't hurt at all, but I had convinced myself that I'd somehow got an infection in my gums or in my teeth that I hadn't noticed, and that the bone of my jaw was being affected.

I looked up all kinds of different scenarios, including this one that I would need to have a bone graft. They were said to be really painful and I was quite anxious about the whole thing.

I finally went to the dentist the other day and he took some x-rays of my teeth. They turned out to be completely fine, with only one tiny cavity showing up and nothing wrong with the roots or anything.

Apparently there are more extensive x-rays they can do which will show if you have anything wrong with your jaw, but he didn't think there was any point. I have a bite which puts a lot of pressure on one part of my jaw and he thought I was probably grinding my teeth, which led to the pain.

I'm kind of glad that I looked up all that stuff about bone erosion though, because it's made me more vigilant than ever about cleaning my teeth.

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