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Bone Grafting

When bone grafting is required

If your jawbone isn't thick enough or is too soft, you may need bone grafting before you can have dental implant surgery. That's because the powerful chewing action of your mouth exerts great pressure on your bone, and if it can't support the implant, the surgery likely would fail. A bone graft can create a more solid base for the implant.

Bone grafting fundamentals

Bone grafting refers to a wide variety of surgical methods augmenting or stimulating the formation of new bone where it is needed.

There are four broad clinical situations in which bone grafting is performed:

  1. To stimulate healing of fractures -- either fresh fractures or fractures that have failed to heal after an initial treatment attempt.
  2. To stimulate healing between two bones across a diseased joint. This situation is called “arthrodesis” or “fusion”.
  3. To regenerate bone which is lost or missing as a result of trauma, infection, or disease. Settings requiring reconstruction or repair of missing bone can vary from filling small cavities to replacing large segments of bone up to 3 inches in length.
  4. To improve the bone healing response and regeneration of bone tissue around surgically implanted teeth (dental implants) or plates and screws used to hold bone alignment.

What are my treatment options?

All methods of bone grafting involve adding some material to the specific site where bone is needed as a means of stimulating a new or more effective bone healing response. Now, minimally invasive bone grafting is available, meaning that the grafting can be performed with a needle, without a surgical incision. However, most methods require open implantation. This is necessary to insure that there is adequate space and proper positioning of the graft material. It is also necessary to remove scar tissues and dead or poorly vascularized tissues from the graft site, since this would interfere with the healing process.