What Is Bone Grafting and Why Would Someone Need It?

Jan 07, 2022
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What Is Bone Grafting and Why Would Someone Need It? In oral and maxillofacial surgery, dental bone grafting is one of the most frequently performed procedures. It is estimated that around 2.2 million bone grafts are performed each year globally.

What Is Bone Grafting and Why Would Someone Need It?

In oral and maxillofacial surgery, dental bone grafting is one of the most frequently performed procedures. It is estimated that around 2.2 million bone grafts are performed each year globally.

This procedure helps replace missing bone in the upper and lower jaw, which is often a necessary step of dental implant surgery. Bone grafting can help improve your oral health in many ways, as well as improve your appearance and well-being. 

If you were told you may need a bone graft, you are probably interested to learn the basics of this popular dental procedure. 

What Is Dental Bone Grafting?

A dental bone graft is a procedure in which a surgeon replaces missing bone in the jaw with bone grafting material to encourage bone regeneration. The grafting material is usually bone from another site. The procedure gives the jaw structural support and is performed on patients who have developed jaw bone defects due to: 

  • – Tooth loss
  • – Periodontal disease
  • – Infection 
  • – Oral cancer
  • – Injury

A typical bone graft procedure involves making an incision in the gums and placing the graft material within the bone defect. The graft contains cells or other bioactive materials that stimulate bone regeneration. The graft fuses with the new bone, creating more bone mass for greater structural support. 

The bone graft procedure itself is usually complete within an hour. But the healing time can take up to four months, and some patients may need to repeat their procedure. Getting a bone graft is worth it, however, because it is the only way to restore lost bone. 

Why Would Someone Need a Bone Graft?

The majority of patients who get dental bone grafts do so because they are also having dental implants. In fact, a bone graft is necessary for at least 50 percent of dental implant candidates. 

The reason you may need bone grafting before getting dental implants is that you need to have enough bone mass to provide anchoring and support for the implant. Unfortunately, bone resorption, which is another word for bone loss, is inevitable following tooth extraction, leaving most patients who require implants without enough bone mass to support them.

But why does bone absorption happen following tooth extraction?

Normally, the force you exert through your teeth when you bite signals osteoblasts, which are bone-forming cells, to keep regenerating bone tissue in that area. When you extract a tooth, the loss of bite force in that area signals osteoclasts, which are cells that break down bone, to work more. 

Another reason patients undergo this procedure is that it can help them preserve the health of their jaw and remaining teeth following tooth loss, periodontal disease or injury. Loss of bone mass in the jaw inevitably affects the structural integrity of the jaw. It can also lead to premature aging and distorted facial features. 

Where Do Bone Grafts Come From?

The gold standard in bone grafting is harvesting bone from the patient’s own body, usually from the hip or jaw. But bone grafts can come from other sources and even include synthetic materials to work as scaffolds for new bone formation. Here are the most common types of bone grafts: 

Autografts – Autografts from the hip bone or jaw are most commonly used for dental implants. There is little to no risk of immunological rejection of this type of graft.

Allografts – An allograft is sourced either from a donor or bone bank. 

Xenografts – These bone grafts are sourced from different species, usually cows.

While autografts are the most common, there’s no “ideal” bone graft since all come with their benefits and setbacks. 

Dental Bone Grafting Techniques 

Surgeons can utilize several different bone-grafting techniques depending on patient needs. Some of those techniques are explained below: 

Ridge Preservation

Also known as a socket graft, this technique is performed immediately or soon after the tooth has been extracted. It involves placing bone graft material directly into the “socket” where the tooth was. The procedure helps prevent bone resorption to keep the surrounding teeth stabilized or for future implant placement. Often times, patients can get their implants at the same time as ridge preservation. 

Sinus Lift

Sinuses are hollow spaces located just above the upper jaw. With upper jaw implants, a sinus lift is often needed to provide a strong base for the implants. The procedure lifts the sinus floor to make more space and create enough bone structure for the new implant. 

Onlay Bone Grafting

As the name suggests, this technique involves laying the bone graft directly on top of the existing bone. The graft is usually secured with titanium screws, and a membrane is positioned over the graft to prevent resorption and provide protection. It takes about four to six months for new bone to grow and fuse with the graft. This is typically the recommended graft technique in cases of severe bone loss. 

What You Can Expect From This Procedure

A bone graft procedure starts with a consultation with Dr. Freeman, which involves taking your medical history and discussing the procedure with you. You will probably need to undergo imaging and other testing in the lead-up to your procedure. 

On the day of your bone graft surgery, you will be given local or general anesthesia and/or sedation. If Dr. Freeman is using an autograft, he will first harvest bone from the donor area. He will then place the graft into the bone defect. He may also place a membrane over the graft to keep it in place. Onlay bone grafts are secured with screws. The incision is then closed with sutures.

After surgery, discomfort is expected and can be managed with over-the-counter or prescription-strength painkillers. Most patients also need to take antibiotics to prevent infections. You will be given instructions on how to keep the area clean and what foods you can eat. 

The healing process takes four to six months, after which you can have dental implants placed. 

Next Steps to Take

If you want to preserve your oral health with a bone graft procedure in Katy, TX, seek out an experienced oral and maxillofacial surgeon like Dr. John P. Freeman

During your initial consultation, Dr. Freeman will discuss your options and address any concerns you might have. A bone graft procedure may seem complicated and risky at first, but it is one of the most routinely performed surgeries. Still, you want to make informed decisions regarding permanent solutions like bone grafts, and we’re here to help!

Contact us here or reach out at 281-599-9445 to request a consultation.

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