Bone loss in the jaws and around the teeth can be the result of missing teeth, periodontal disease, or trauma. This bone loss is more than a detriment to oral health and function; it can also alter facial appearance as the support for the natural contours of the face is diminished.
When a tooth is extracted, the natural stimulation to the underlying bone that is generated by the forces of biting or chewing is lost. In fact, bone width can be reduced by as much as 25% in the first year following tooth loss.
With grafting procedures, the dental bone can be restored to its original dimensions to maintain facial esthetics, repair the damage caused by periodontal disease as well as facilitate the success of procedures such as the placement of dental implants. A bone graft provides a platform or “scaffolding” for new bone growth and the material for a bone graft can be derived from the patient, other donor sources or be comprised of synthetic, bone-like materials.
There are various grafting techniques available, each tailored to meet the specific requirements of a given case.
A bone graft can be inserted immediately after a tooth extraction or sometime following tooth loss. Placing a bone graft during tooth removal reduces the extent of bone loss in the area, ensuring the necessary support for future placement of a dental implant. However, if a bone graft is placed later after tooth loss, an additional surgical procedure is required to expose the underlying bone by reflecting the soft tissue, insert the graft, and then suture the soft tissue back in place.
When a patient lacks sufficient bone to support a dental implant for replacing an upper back tooth (maxillary back tooth), a “sinus lift” procedure may be performed. This surgical procedure involves lifting the sinus membrane and adding bone graft material between the jaw and the sinus floor. This process increases the height of the bone, facilitating successful support of a dental implant.
Moreover, apart from bone grafting for ridge preservation or augmentation to enable dental implant placement, it is sometimes necessary to perform an aesthetic ridge augmentation procedure. This procedure restores the natural shape of the bone, enhancing the cosmetic outcome in preparation for fixed bridgework. To promote healing, protect the graft, and guide tissue regeneration, specialized membranes and biologically active materials can be placed over the grafting material.