Over a period of time, the jawbone associated with missing teeth atrophies, or is reabsorbed (shrinks). This frequently leaves a condition where there’s poor quality and quantity of bone suitable for placement of dental implants. In these cases, most patients are not candidates for the placement of dental implants.
Today, we have the ability to augment or even grow bone where needed. This not only gives us the opportunity to place dental implants of proper length and width, it also gives us a chance to restore functionality and aesthetic facial structure and appearance.
Bone grafting can repair implant sites that have inadequate bone structure due to previous extractions, gum disease or injuries. The bone is either obtained from a tissue bank or is taken from the patient’s jaw, hip or tibia (below the knee). Sinus bone grafts are also performed to replace bone in the posterior upper jaw.
Special paper-thin membranes may also be utilized, that dissolve under the gum and protect the bone graft and encourage bone regeneration. This is called “guided bone regeneration” or “guided tissue regeneration”.
Major bone grafts are typically performed to repair larger defects of the jaws. These defects typically arise as a result of traumatic injuries, tumor surgery, or congenital defects.
Large defects are repaired using the patient’s own bone. This bone is harvested from a number of different sites, depending on the size of the defect being fixed. The skull (cranium), hip (iliac crest), and lateral knee (tibia), are common donor sites. These procedures are routinely performed in an operating room and sometimes require a hospital stay, but are also often performed in an office surgical suite on an outpatient basis.