When one or more teeth are missing, it can lead to bone loss at the site of the gap. The loss of jawbone can develop into additional problems, both with your appearance and your overall health. You may experience pain, problems with your remaining teeth, altered facial appearance, and eventually even the inability to speak and/or eat normally.
In the same way that muscles are maintained through exercise, bone tissue is maintained by use. Natural teeth are embedded in the jawbone and stimulate the jawbone through activities such as chewing and biting. When teeth are missing, the bone no longer receives the necessary stimulation it needs and begins to break down, or resorb.
Bone grafting can repair implant sites with inadequate bone structure due to previous extractions, gum disease, or injuries. Sinus bone grafts are also performed to replace bone in the upper jaw. In addition, special membranes may be utilized that dissolve under the gum to protect the bone graft, as well as encourage bone regeneration. This is called guided bone regeneration, or guided tissue regeneration.
The bone used in a bone graft may come from a variety of different sources. I can be harvested from your own jaw, hip, or leg, or it may come from a tissue bank. Your surgeon will discuss different options with you and help you choose the best method for your bone graft.
Bone grafts are done for a variety of reasons, including preparation for implant placement, ridge augmentation, sinus lift, or socket preservation. Most often, bone grafts are simple outpatient surgeries that are performed in our office by our skilled surgeons.
Major bone grafts are typically performed to repair defects of the jaws. These defects may 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 areas depending on the size needed. These procedures are typically performed in an operating room and require a hospital stay.