Periodontal disease is the leading cause of bone loss in the oral cavity, though there are others such as ill-fitting dentures and facial trauma. The bone grafting procedure is an excellent way to replace lost bone tissue and encourage natural bone growth. Bone grafting is a versatile and predictable procedure which fulfills a wide variety of functions.
A bone graft may be required to create a stable base for dental implant placement, to halt the progression of gum disease, or to make the smile appear more aesthetically pleasing.
There are several types of dental bone grafts. The following are the most common:
Autogenous bone graft – In this type of graft the bone is removed from elsewhere in the body and implanted in the mouth. Common donor sites for bone grafting include the iliac section of the pelvis, the chin and the posterior third molar areas of the jaw. If large amounts of bone need to be harvested, the hip or the shin bone (tibia) is generally used.
Allograft – Synthetic bone (manmade) can be created in the laboratory and used in the bone grafting procedure. Bone can also be obtained from a bone bank (cadaver bone).
Xenograft – This is the implantation of bovine (cow) bone. A xenograft is perfectly safe and has been used successfully; ample bone can be obtained, and a secondary donor site is not necessary.
Bone grafting is a fairly simple procedure that can be performed under local anesthetic; however, if large amounts of bone area need to be grafted, general anesthetic may be required.
Initially, the grafting material needs to either be harvested or prepared for insertion. A small incision is made in the gum tissue and then gently separated from the bone. The bone grafting material is then placed at the affected site.
The gum is sutured in place and a follow-up appointment will need to be made within 10 days to assess progress. Bone grafting is a highly successful treatment and a good base for further periodontal restorations.
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