Dental implants are small titanium posts which are placed into the jaw bone in order to replace missing teeth. In order for implants to be placed correctly adequate amounts bone are needed for implant placement. During the initial assessment for implant treatment the dentist or implant surgeon will asses to see if sufficient bone is present for implant placement. CT scans or radio-graphs are used to analyses the jaw bone prior to placing implants. If there is insufficient bone, a bone graft for dental implants treatment may be needed.
A bone graft is the process of adding structure to your existing bone in order to give an appropriate base for the implant. The bone in your jaw can be stimulated to grow either through natural or synthetic means.
Why is a bone graft for dental implants necessary?
After tooth loss a natural process of bone shrinking usually occurs. The tooth socket fills with new bone however the surrounding bone shrinks after the tooth is removed. If the tooth is not replaced with an implant, then the bone loss will continue. Each year a small amount of bone will be lost and over time this may make implant placement complex. Similarly to natural teeth dental implants prevent bone loss. Implants provide a stimulus to the jaw bone and maintain bone around the implant. There are various types of bone graft for dental implants
There are four types of bone grafts:
Autogenous or auto-grafts
Bone is harvested from the same individual from specific donor sites. In dental implantology bone can be harvested from the chin, back of the lower jaw or hip (for large/extensive bone grafts) Autogenous bone grafts are considered to be the best as the bone is harvested from the same individual. Rejection of autogenous bone occurs less when compared to other types of graft materials. The size of the bone graft will depend on where it is harvested from. Smaller bone grafts can be harvested from the mouth while larger grafts may need to be harvested from the other sites.
Bone tissue is used from a different species. The most common type is bovine (cow) bone. Some patients may feel uncomfortable with this its an animal origin. Special labs will sterilize and remove animal bone properties so that it is well accepted into the human jaw bone. This is a very popular type of bone graft for dental implant. The bovine bone acts as a scaffold for new human bone to grow into and over time it is replaced completely by human bone. This process is called ‘osteoinduction’
This is similar to autogenous bone graft however it is taken from another individual of the same species. This is also known as cadaveric bone, as the donors usually donate bone tissue to bone banks after they die. Donated bone is sterilized and prepared by the bone banks before being grafted into your jawbone. This type of bone graft is less painful than autogenous bone grafts as there is no donor site pain or discomfort.
This type of bone graft material is totally synthetic and has no animal or human properties. There are resorbable and non-resorbable types of alloplastic graft materials. One of the most common types of alloplastic graft materials is beta tri-calcium phosphate. This graft material is very popular as it is totally synthetic and does not carry any potential risks from donors. Unfortunately this type of bone graft for dental implant material is not as well accepted by the human body as the other types of graft materials listed above.
How are bone graft for dental implants carried out?
In dental implantology bone grafts are usually carried out under local anesthetic or sedation. Most procedures do not require hospitalization and can be performed in the dental chair. More complex bone grafting procedures like hip grafts will require general anesthetic and hospitalization. A healing period of up to 9 months is needed for some types of bone graft procedures.
Why would a bone graft for dental implant fail?
Bone graft procedures are usually highly predictable and successful. There are different types of bone grafting procedures with some being more complex than others. There are several reasons why bone grafts fail however the most common is infection. During the healing phase bacteria in our mouths can infiltrate the graft and cause infection. Antibiotics are usually prescribed before bone grafting in order to reduce the possibility of infection. However if the graft becomes infected it will need to be removed. It is very important that removable dentures are avoided as much as possible after bone grafting procedures.
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