Missing teeth for an extended period of time can cause your jaw bone to atrophy, or resorb. This often results in poor quality and quantity of bone for the placement of dental implants as well as long term shifting of remaining teeth and even possible changes to facial structure. Most patients, in these situations, are not candidates for dental implants.
Fortunately, today we have the ability to grow bone where it is needed. This not only gives us the opportunity to place implants of proper length and width, but it also gives us a chance to restore functionality and aesthetics.
Bone grafting can supplement implant sites with inadequate bone structure due to previous extractions, gum disease, or injuries. The bone is either obtained from a tissue bank or your own bone can be taken from the jaw, hip or tibia (below the knee). Sinus bone grafts are also performed to replace bone in the back of the upper jaw. In addition, special membranes may be utilized that dissolve under the gum to protect the bone graft, as well as encourage bone regeneration. This is called guided bone regeneration, or guided tissue regeneration.
Major bone grafts are typically performed to repair defects of the jaws. These defects may arise as a result of traumatic injuries, tumor surgery, or congenital defects. Large defects are repaired using the patient’s own bone. This bone is harvested from a number of different areas depending on the amount needed. The skull (cranium), hip (iliac crest), and lateral knee (tibia), are common donor sites. These procedures are routinely performed in an operating room and require a hospital stay.