Bone is living tissue. At any one time, our body is forming new bone and removing existing bone in a constant process of bone remodeling. Our jawbones are strengthened by a physical stimulus such as the biting and chewing forces transmitted through the teeth. When we lose our teeth, the physical stimulus is lost over the affected area, bone is resorbed and shrinkage occurs. Bone loss may also occur due to systemic conditions such as osteoporosis.
When would I need a bone graft?
If there is severe shrinkage of the jaw bone, you may need a bone graft to regenerate bone thickness for successful dental implant placement or to provide support for dentures.
A cone-beam CT (CBCT) is usually done for the assessment of bone quality. This scan will allow the dentist to accurately measure the height, width, and density of your existing bone. If assessed to be necessary, bone grafting is offered, usually as an adjunct to implant surgery. This procedure may also be performed after dental extraction in order to preserve the site. This can be timed either at the same visit or subsequently if there are conditions such as infection limiting the integration of the grafted bone.
Bone grafting is a minor surgical procedure where the dentist prepares and secures the grafting material onto your jaw bone. It is usually performed under local anesthesia. Bone graft materials can be obtained from a few sources including the patient’s own bone from a different part of the body or most commonly, a special sterilized bone scaffolding derived from bovine sources.
- Bone loss on lower jaw (gums opened to expose bone before grafting surgery)
- Bone graft on lower jaw
- Regenerative collagen membrane placed between the gums and bone graft
How long will it take for a bone graft to become strong and hard?
Typically, you have to wait several months for the newly-introduced bone to fuse with your jaw bone, creating strong, solid bone. A successful bone graft allows your jaw bone to be strong enough to support your dental implant, ensuring that the implant stays stable and secure.