Bone Grafting In-Depth

a smiling patient who had a bone graft in Davison, MI
Dental implants have become the top choice when it comes to replacing missing teeth. This unique alternative to traditional bridges and dentures utilizes small titanium posts that are surgically inserted directly into your jawbone. As you heal, the bone fuses to the posts, integrating them gradually into the bone. Once fully healed, the posts provide stable, secure support for the ceramic crowns that replace the visible surfaces of your missing teeth. While dental implants provide some significant benefits, you first need to be determined a candidate for treatment. If you are missing too much bone mass in your jaw, implants may not be possible right away. Blue Summit Dental Group can help by performing a bone graft.

Tooth Loss and Bone Loss

Tooth loss impacts every aspect of your life. It makes things like eating and speaking more difficult. It affects the quality of your smile and can cause a significant decrease in confidence. In addition to all of these effects, tooth loss also impacts the health of your jawbone.

Your teeth, specifically the roots, stimulate the jawbone every time you chew. This stimulation sends a message to the rest of your body that causes the body to send the nutrients essential for the health and strength of your jaw and the surrounding areas. When you lose teeth, even if you only lose one or two, the amount of stimulation your jawbone receives is decreased. This then tells your body that fewer nutrients are needed. Over time, the areas of the jaw affected by tooth loss begin to weaken. The bone resorbs and begins to change shape. As the bone changes shape, your healthy teeth begin to shift out of alignment. The changes can also affect your facial appearance, causing sagging skin and wrinkles.

The Importance of Bone Mass and Implant Success

When faced with tooth loss, it is important to have those missing teeth replaced. Dental implants are the most popular treatment for achieving this goal, providing numerous benefits over traditional bridges and dentures. However, for dental implants to be successful, you need to have sufficient bone mass remaining in the jaw. The posts of your implants rely on your jawbone for stability. As you heal, the bone fuses to the posts, integrating them into the jaw. If you do not have enough bone mass left in your jaw, the bone cannot properly fuse. The implant posts may not even integrate at all. These issues can lead to loose, unstable implants or even complete implant failure.

What Is a Bone Graft?

A bone graft is a surgical procedure that is designed to restore missing bone mass. For dental purposes, the procedure is performed to restore missing bone mass in your jaw. A bone graft involves the transplanting of bone tissue into the areas where the original bone mass was lost. Essentially, the procedure is done to provide structural integrity, restoring your facial shape and making it possible for dental implants to be successfully placed within the jaw.

A History of Bone Grafting

Bone grafting is not a new procedure. It has been documented as an important part of medicine as far back as the 1600s. Shortly following the invention of the microscope, a Dutch doctor by the name of Jacob van Meekeren performed the first bone graft. His patient was a soldier who had suffered skull damage. Because there was no understanding about bone grafting materials, van Meerkeren used dog bone. The surgery was successful, but the soldier returned later and asked for the grafting material to be removed. The soldier had been excommunicated from his church due to the graft because the church thought him to now be part dog. When van Meerkeren went to remove the grafting material, he discovered just how well bone grafting worked. The graft could not be removed.

Over the next 150 years, bone grafting underwent significant development. In 1821, the first autogenous bone graft, a graft that uses bone mass from the patient, was performed in Germany. The bone grafting procedure continued to develop throughout World Wars I and II, as critically wounded soldiers needed more advanced treatments. Today, bone grafting continues to be a popular treatment for many medical procedures, including restoring bone mass for the placement of dental implants.

What Types of Bone Grafts Are There?

There are several different types of bone grafts available. During your initial consultation, we go over the various options with you and can determine the best course of action based on your situation and your needs.
•  Autogenous bone grafts. An autogenous bone graft is a type of bone graft that involves the use of your bone to restore missing mass in your jaw. Typically, the bone is harvested from the hip or the tibia, although it can sometimes be taken from the chin as well. One of the biggest advantages of this type of grafting is that since it is your bone being harvested, you do not have the risk of disease transmission or rejection. However, because we have to take the bone material from another part of your body, the procedure will require an additional surgical site. With this type of graft, the grafting material is considered living. This means that after the grafting material has been placed, the two will fuse together as you heal.
•  Allogenic bone grafts. An allogenic bone graft is a type of bone graft that uses bone mass from a compatible donor that is taken from a tissue bank. The bone material is harvested from a cadaver. Before being stored in a tissue bank, the donor bone is thoroughly cleaned. It is also screened for diseases and other issues, which aids in reducing the risk of complications. Because the bone is no longer living, it only fills a void, where your natural bone fuses around it. While there is a minor risk for disease transmission and rejection, we take every measure possible to keep this risk minimal. There is one major advantage to allogenic grafts: this type of graft only requires the surgical sites in your jaw, which can help to reduce your risk for potential infections and other complications.
•  Xenogenic bone grafts. A xenogenic graft is a type of bone graft that involves taking bone mass from another species. Typically, the bone is harvested from a cow or a pig. It is processed at very high temperatures, which works to reduce the risk of contamination and graft rejection. Much like an allogenic bone graft, the grafting material only works to fill an empty space, serving as a framework for your bone to fuse around. Xenogenic grafts also only require one surgical site. However, because the bone is not living, healing can take longer
•  Bone graft substitutes. There are also plenty of bone graft substitutes that may be used as well. Demineralized bone matrix, which is processed from an allogenic bone, contains collagen, proteins, and growth factors that are extracted from the bone. It is available as chips, putty, powder, or even an injectable gel. Graft composites have a combination of bone graft materials and growth factors. Bone morphogenic proteins are natural proteins that are produced in the body. Their function is to promote and regulate the formation of bone as well as bone healing.

How Is Bone Grafting Done?

Bone grafting is a surgical procedure. The procedure is done under a local anesthetic, which ensures that you do not feel any pain while we work. We can also provide sedation, which is designed to help you feel comfortable and relaxed throughout your procedure. During your initial consultation, we go over your sedation options and choose the option that will best suit your needs.

When the surgery begins, we create small incisions in your gums to expose the weakened areas of your jaw, where the grafting material will be placed. We then fill the empty spaces with bone grafting material. If your graft is autogenous, we create additional surgical sites where we are harvesting your bone and remove the necessary material. It is then placed where it needs to be in your jaw and secured. Once your surgery is complete, the surgical wounds are sutured closed, and you can begin the healing process.

Socket Preservation

In some situations, your teeth do not fall out on their own. Whether the teeth are damaged by physical damage, or they are severely decayed, these teeth may need to be extracted. When extracting a tooth, an empty hole is left behind. A socket preservation procedure is performed following tooth extraction. By filling the empty socket with bone grafting material, we can help preserve the shape, strength, and integrity of the jaw. The grafting also acts as a base, providing a place for new bone to migrate to and form new layers of bone cells. By performing a bone graft so soon after tooth loss in an empty socket, you can prevent bone loss and the shifting of the alignment of your natural teeth.

Ridge Augmentation

A ridge augmentation is a type of bone graft procedure that is often performed when a significant amount of bone mass is lost from the jaw following tooth loss. It is meant to restore the height, width, and mass of the jaw, while evening out the ridge at the same time. An allogenic bone graft, or allograft, is often done to fill in the voids left behind, giving your jawbone the necessary framework that it needs.

Sinus Lift Procedure

There are several sinus cavities in your head. Two of these sinus cavities, the maxillary sinus cavities, are located just behind the cheeks, right above each side of the upper jaw. Some of the roots of your natural teeth reach toward the cavities without interfering with it. When you lose these teeth and then begin losing bone mass, the layer of bone between the jaw and the cavities becomes very thin. When dental implants are used to replace those teeth, there is a risk that the posts can pierce through the sinus cavities. If this happens, you are at significant risk for developing chronic sinus infections and other complications. A sinus lift is a procedure that is performed to lift the floors of the sinus cavities. After the floors are lifted up, the bone grafting material is placed in the empty space underneath. This not only provides your implants with the stability they need for success but also helps to protect your sinus cavities as well.

Benefits of Bone Grafting

Bone grafting provides several benefits. These benefits include:
•  Restoring missing bone mass that will then enable successful treatment with dental implants. Following a bone graft, the implants will be more stable and will provide you with much better results.
•  Grafting can restore the shape and size of both your jawbone as well as your gums. This can help to restore the aesthetics of your smile and give you a boost of confidence.
•  Immediately following tooth extraction, a bone graft, or socket preservation, can help to maintain the size and shape of your jawbone. This is possible because the bone graft can help to stop potential bone loss in your jaw.
•  Bone grafting can also help to restore your facial appearance. Not only does it restore balance to the facial features, but it also helps to fill out your face once again, which can aid in restoring a more youthful appearance.

Potential Complications of Bone Grafting

While bone grafts have years of research and development behind them, making the procedure a very successful treatment, there are still risks for complications to occur. Potential complications that may be experienced include:
•  Infections. If an infection occurs, it can compromise your oral health as well as the success of your bone graft.
•  Injuries to the nerve. In some cases, a nerve may be injured during the surgical procedure.
•  Bone graft exposure. If the gum tissue covering your bone graft begins to recede, it can lead to the exposure of the bone graft. When this happens, the blood supply to the graft is lost, and the graft becomes compromised.
•  Bone graft failure. In some situations, a bone graft may fail. This can occur either during healing, or it can happen later as a result of excessive bone resorption. Factors that can contribute to bone graft failure include infections, bad materials, improper surgical technique, and health issues.

If you have lost teeth and have been told that you do not have enough bone mass to support dental implants, you may be a candidate for a bone graft. For more information, and to schedule your consultation, call Blue Summit Dental Group today at (810) 658-9177.
Dental services we offer to our Davison community

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Ralph J. Becker, D.D.S., P.C.
7007 Davison Rd
Davison, MI 48423-2005

(810) 658-9177
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