Understanding the Bone Grafting Procedure

Delray Beach Dentist Dr. Mark C McCauley DMD

Complicated dental procedures and oral surgery can be intimidating. Intimidation often originates from a patient not fully understanding why a particular procedure is necessary and what to expect during the procedure.

For example, in the case of dental implants, the jawbone must have enough bone to support them. Tooth loss often leads to more loss of bone over time. The tooth loss may be caused by any number of factors including periodontal (gum) disease, cavities and infection, injury or trauma, or a defect in development.

If the bone under a patient’s gum is not tall enough, not wide enough or both, he or she will need a procedure to add bone to your jaw before implants can be placed.

Bone augmentation is a term that describes a variety of procedures used to “build” bone so that dental implants can be placed. These procedures typically involve grafting (adding) bone or bone like materials to the jaw. The graft can be the patient’s own bone or be processed bone (off the shelf) obtained from a cadaver. After grafting, the patient will have to wait several months for the grafted material to fuse with the existing bone before receiving an implant.

Most bone augmentation procedures involve the use of bone grafts. An excellent choice for a bone graft is a patient’s bone. This most likely will come from the chin or ramus (the back part of the lower jaw). If a dentist cannot get enough bone from these areas, he or she may need to get bone from your hip or shin bone (tibia) instead. The hip is considered to be a better source because the hip bone can provide a large amount of bone. The marrow from either the hip or shin (tibia) contains bone-forming cells.

If you don’t like the idea of having bone removed from your body to be placed in your jaw, other excellent options are available. Your dentist can use materials made from the bone of human cadavers or cows. Synthetic materials also can be used for bone grafting. Newer products, such as bone morphogenetic protein-2 (BMP-2), are also available. BMP-2 stimulates certain body cells to turn into bone, without grafting. This protein occurs naturally in the body.

As always, if you feel intimidated by any dental procedure, you should fully discuss all of your options with your dentist and make a decision together about a proper course of action.