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Bone Grafting

Bone Grafting

Bone grafting is associated with dental restorations such as bridgework when there are defects in the bone and most commonly with dental implants, because the success of a dental implant can hinge on the height, depth, and width of the jawbone at the implant site. When the jawbone has receded or sustained significant damage, dental implant(s) cannot be supported on this unstable foundation and bone grafting is usually recommended for the ensuing restoration.

Bone grafting is a highly successful procedure in most cases. It is also a preferable alternative to having missing teeth, diseased teeth, or tooth deformities.

  • Periodontal Disease – Periodontal disease can affect and permanently damage the jawbone that supports the teeth. Affected areas progressively worsen until the teeth become unstable.
  • Tooth Extraction – Studies have shown that patients who have experienced a tooth extraction subsequently lose 40-60% of the bone surrounding the extraction site during the following three years. Loss of bone results in what is called a “bone defect”.
  • Injuries and Infections – Dental injuries and other physical injuries resulting from a blow to the jaw can cause the bone to recede. Infections can also cause the jaw bone to recede in a similar way.

Bone grafting is a highly successful procedure in most cases. It is also a preferable alternative to having missing teeth, diseased teeth, or tooth deformities. Bone grafting can increase the height or width of the jawbone and fill in voids and defects in the bone.

There are essentially two basic ways in which bone grafting can positively impact the health and stability of the teeth:

Jaw Stabilization – Bone grafting stabilizes and helps restore the jaw foundation for restorative or implant surgery. Deformities can also be corrected and the restructuring of the bone can provide added support.

Preservation – Bone grafting can be used to limit or prevent bone recession following a tooth extraction, periodontal disease, or other invasive processes.

Oral Examination

Initially, Dr. Jack Shirley will thoroughly examine the affected area in order to assess the general condition of the teeth and gums. If periodontal disease is present or the adjacent teeth are in poor condition, these factors will be fully addressed before the bone grafting procedure can begin. Dr. Shirley will also recommend panoramic x-rays in order to assess the precise depth and width of the existing bone. On occasion, a CAT scan may be recommended to determine the bone condition. Dr. Shirley may also anesthetize the area and explore into the gum in order to determine what kind and how much bone is required.

If bone grafting is indicated, you will be referred to a bone-grafting specialist for further evaluation and a treatment plan that is best suited to the bone condition. Dr. Shirley and the specialist will be in close communication, and they will advise you about the course of treatment that is right for you.

Bone Graft Procedures

Bone is typically harvested from your own body (or on rare occasions obtained from a "bone bank" and added to the affected site. This bone will fuse with the existing bone and the migration of cells will cause firm adhesion and cell growth. Supplementing the jaw with bone will result in greater bone mass to help support and anchor the implant(s).

During the surgery, the dentist will numb the grafting and extraction sites using local anesthetic. A small incision will be made to prepare the site for the new bone and it will be anchored into place. On occasion, a synthetic membrane may be used to cover the new bone. This membrane prevents soft tissue and bacterial invasions, and encourages new bone growth. The surgery does not require an overnight stay, and you will be provided with comprehensive instructions for your post-operative care. The dentist will prescribe medications to help manage infection, discomfort and swelling.

A period of healing will follow before restorative dental work proceeds. In some cases, more than one grafting procedure occurs to achieve the desired results, and the process can take some months to complete. Once the desired results are achieved, the dentistry you receive will significantly improve the function of your mouth, its appearance, and your long-term oral health.

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