What is bone grafting?
Bone grafting is a highly successful, safe surgical procedure that replaces missing bone in the jaw.
Generally a bone grafting procedure will be performed when there is insufficient natural bone in the jaw to hold dental implants. This procedure makes it possible for you to have dental implants placed even if you do not have enough natural bone. Bone grafting can be performed on both the upper and lower jaws.
Bone grafting may also be referred to as ‘bone augmentation’.
Bone grafting will increase the height and thickness of the jawbone, to enable successful dental implant placement. The procedure helps to restore the normal dimensions of the jawline and smile.
When is bone grafting necessary?
A bone graft is generally performed when there is insufficient bone height and bone thickness in the jaw to support a dental implant.
The bone graft will be performed before the dental implant is placed. This procedure creates a solid and stable foundation for the dental implants, ensuring long-term stability and functionality.
Whilst dental implants will fuse with the natural jawbone during a process called osseointegration, successful implant placement requires a certain quantity (and quality) of bone to be present prior to the procedure.
Factors that can cause insufficient bone include:
- Bone recession due to tooth loss:
When a tooth is lost or removed, the bone that once held the tooth in place begins to deteriorate and resorb (absorb back into the body). The longer teeth have been missing, the more bone loss can occur over time.
- Bone recession due to wearing dentures long term.
- Bone structure may have been lost due to periodontal (gum) disease.
- You may naturally have a thin jawbone.
- Facial injury or trauma.
- Bone infection.
- Tooth development defects.
- Pneumatisation of the maxillary sinuses (enlargement of the sinuses caused by resorption of the upper jawbone).
How does bone grafting work?
Bone grafting can be performed using either the patient’s own natural bone from inside their mouth, or using a synthetic bone material.
The bone grafting material is used to build up or add to any areas of naturally thin or soft bone. This will rebuild the height and thickness of the jawbone.
The grafted material not only replaces the missing bone, but helps to regenerate bone.
Over time the bone graft material will harden and integrate with your natural bone, promoting new bone growth and improving bone density. The new bone growth will strengthen the grafted area by establishing a bridge between the existing bone and the graft.
Over time the newly formed bone will replace much of the grafted material.
Depending on your particular case we will use either particle graft material, or block grafts, or both. Particle graft material is packed into and around an area with insufficient bone, whereas block grafts are screwed into the jawbone.
We will also generally use a resorbable membrane to assist with bone regeneration.
Area of jaw with insufficient bone:
Particle graft material:
Combination of particle graft and block graft material:
Dental implant placement after bone grafting:
Video: Bone grafting procedure.
Guided Bone Regeneration
In most cases the bone graft material will be covered with a resorbable membrane. This technique is called Guided Bone Regeneration as it helps to encourage bone growth and provides a guide for how and where the bone should grow.
The membrane keeps all of the bone grafting material in place and provides a barrier between the graft material and the natural soft tissue (gum). This allows the bone graft material time to heal, strengthen and regenerate.
The membrane also helps protect the grafted area from infection.
Bone grafting procedure
Prior to the procedure:
We will provide a full examination of your dentition (teeth) and take digital radiographs (X-rays) including an OPG (orthopantomogram) and a 3D Cone Beam CT scan. This will allow us to study the anatomy of your jaw area, as well as accurately measure the height and width of your existing bone.
What’s involved in a bone grafting procedure:
Bone grafting is a simple, safe and highly successful procedure.
A small incision is made in the gum tissue to expose the jawbone.
Particle graft material will be packed in and around the affected area, or block grafts will be screwed onto the affected area, or both. Generally, the graft material will then be covered with a protective resorbable membrane.
The gum tissue is closed with stitches (sutures) and allowed to heal.
Please note, any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks. Before proceeding you should obtain personal advice from an appropriately qualified health practitioner.