Bone Grafting

Bone Grafting

bone-graftingSince dentistry is, after all, a field of medicine, some procedures carry over between the fields. Bone grafting is one such procedure. Originally developed over 350 years ago by a surgeon treating a broken skull, bone grafting as a technique has been refined and perfected to such an extent that it is a common tool used by dentists like Dr. Allen Gotora from Stellar Dental today.

What is a bone graft?

A bone graft, as the name implies, is a procedure in which a piece is bone is fused to an area with insufficient bone. As you can probably guess, a surgical step is required for the graft. A piece of bone must first be harvested from another part of the body and then implanted in such a way that the healing process causes the two pieces of bone to join together. Thus, bone grafts are usually used to add mass to a bone that might be fractured or receding (see below for more details).

Where is the Bone Material Harvested From?

bone-grafting2The actual graft can come from a variety of sources, and dentists typically recommend grafts taken from:

  • Another part of the patient’s body: For obvious reasons, grafts that are extracted from another part of the body are most preferable. For the relatively small grafts required by dental procedures, bone may be taken from the chin, wisdom teeth area, or upper jaw depending on the patient’s specific situation. Larger grafts may be taken from the hip area. Rest assured, though, that the small piece of bone taken for the graft won’t negatively affect the body in any way.
  • A bone donor: Though, for dentistry, larger grafts are typically not needed, in the cases that they do become necessary, the grafts usually come from a bone donor. Human bone of some sort is always preferable to synthetically created bone or animal bone.
  • An animal: In some cases, animal bone is sufficiently similar to human bone that a graft can be extracted and used. Cow bone is the most commonly used.
  • In some cases, a synthetically created bone: Although most dentists prefer a more organic source, synthetically created bone grafting materials have been used in grafting procedures as well. While synthetic bone is able to mimic the behavior of a normal bone, dentists generally prefer natural bone grafts when performing a bone graft procedure.

Why might I need a bone graft done?

In the medical field in general, bone grafts are typically used to repair complex fractures, but the dentists use bone grafts for a slightly different purpose. There are two primary situations in which a bone graft can be necessary, which are:

  • When the jawbone has receded: The human body is a very dynamic system, and that means that nothing — not even your bone mass — is guaranteed to stay the same. Generally, there are two scenarios in which the jawbone may recede and lose mass over time: when there’s a missing tooth in the mouth, and when gum disease causes the bone to wear away. To reverse the damage done or re-establish good bone substructure in these situations, a bone graft is typically needed to return the jawbone to its original state.
  • When a sinus lift is needed to support a dental implant: More commonly, though, bone grafts are used to help support a dental implant. Dental implants are a type of cosmetic procedure that attaches a prosthetic tooth to the mouth by means of a titanium rod implanted in the jaw. Some patients, however, don’t have enough mass, particularly in their upper jaw to support an implant. In that case, a special type of bone graft called a sinus lift is needed to buffer the jawbone before the actual dental implant is inserted.

Bone grafts may also be necessary in some rarer scenarios as well–for example, some kinds of oral cancer may require a bone graft to completely repair. However, the specifics will differ for each patient, and if you need a bone graft, your dentist will definitely discuss potential options with you.

If you do think you may need a bone graft, or if you just want to learn more about the procedure, be sure to contact a qualified dentist for more information! Only a medical professional can give you a diagnosis that takes into account your specific situation. If you’re in Maryland, you can contact Dr. Allen Gotora from Stellar Dental to get more details! Just call (301) 754-1900 or visit the website to set up an appointment today.