Patients needing tooth extraction or considering dental implants in Winter Park, FL are often surprised when a bone graft procedure is recommended. Initially this can cause many to be nervous about the process or confused about what a dental bone graft entails. Two very common questions are, what is a dental bone graft and why do I need one?
What is a Dental Bone Graft?
There was a time that a dental bone graft procedure was a complicated surgery. Bone was harvested from the patient, often from the hip (iliac crest) and then transferred to the site that was going to be rebuilt. This procedure provided living bone to the site but had several drawbacks including the need for a second surgical site.
Thankfully over the years the procedure and materials have improved greatly. Now it is common to use prepackaged bone grafting materials. Many sources are available and they all have indicated uses. The important note is that they are all prepared in a manor to produce an acellular bone matrix. We classify these bone grafts by their source.
- allograft (human)
- xenograft (animal, usually cow)
- alloplast (synthetic)
Why do I need a Dental Bone Graft?
Many times we will recommend a bone graft be done at the same time that a tooth is extracted. This can be helpful if you have plans to replace the tooth in the future. After an extraction the bone will begin to shrink or atrophy. This can happen to both the width and the height of the bone. Placing a bone graft can help to minimize or even eliminate the shrinkage of the bone.
Other times we will place a bone graft to rebuild the bone after teeth have been missing for many years. This is usually done to help rebuild the site in preparation for dental implants being placed. A graft can also be placed to rebuild bone for cosmetic reasons.