Regardless of the cause, when you lose a tooth, you may experience bone loss in your jawbone. The teeth stimulate the jawbone, so if you have lost one or more teeth, your jawbone will start to deteriorate. As time goes by, you may experience enough bone loss that dental implants won’t hold. If this is the case, we may recommend bone grafting.
Bone grafting is a procedure where we replace the missing bone in your jaw. There are three types: autogenous, allograft, and xenograft.
Autogenous grafts use bone from another part of your body, moving it to your mouth. Usually bone is removed from non-essential bones like your chin. By using your own bone, you are reducing the chance that your jawbone will reject it. It even prevents infection. Also, it is made up of active cellular material since it is still living.
Allografts use human bone but not your own. Instead, we use bone from cadavers who have donated their bones to bone banks. This is considered safe because the bone goes through rigorous testing before use.
Xenografts use bone from another source. The most commonly used source is cow bones.
The benefit of using either allografts or xenografts is that our patients will not have to have a second surgery to harvest their bone. Also, both sources are easily found so we will have plenty of bone for whatever you need.
Before we start, we use local anesthesia to numb the area where your bone will be removed and also in your mouth where the replacement bone is needed. We need to make an incision in your gums so we can see exactly how much bone is needed before we harvest your own bone or get bone from another source.
If we are harvesting bone from your chin, we will make another incision in the gums below your lower front teeth. This exposes the chin and we can remove the bone that we need, along with the marrow. We close this with stitches. After we remove the bone, we will place it where it is needed and screw it into the jawbone with titanium screws.
To help with the healing process, we may use bone marrow and bone-grafting material. We then stitch the incision closed.
After you have received a bone graft, you will need to go home with antibiotics and pain medication. You may need to eat soft food like pasta and JELL-O® while your mouth heals. It can take between six to nine months to completely heal. At that time, we will be able to place your dental implants in.