When a person needs to have a tooth replaced with a false one, an anchor must be inserted into the jawbone to hold it in place. Sometimes, if the area has been damaged or eroded by periodontal disease or other infections, there may not be enough bone to support the implant. In these cases, the dentist will need to do a dental implant bone graft, a procedure that builds up the bone tissue and also helps promote bone growth.
The best place to get tissue for a dental implant bone graft is from the patient. Sometimes bone can be harvested from the implant site while the dentist is drilling it to prepare for the procedure, or from other areas in the mouth such as the chin. In other cases, bone needs to come from other parts of the patient’s body, such as the hips. This type of bone extraction will be performed in a hospital by a doctor, who will then provide the tissue to the dentist for the graft.
If bone cannot be taken from the patient, there are other options available. Tissue can come from bone banks, where bone harvested from cadavers is stored for use in medical and dental procedures. Synthetic materials may also be used, though actual bone tissue is preferable for grafts and usually yields better results.
The dentist performing the dental implant bone graft will insert the new tissue into the appropriate area of the jawbone, filling in gaps or defects as needed. Once the graft is complete, he or she will often use a barrier membrane that protects the area by keeping soft tissues cells from growing into it and affecting the bone growth. Sutures, tacks, or screws may need to be used as well to secure the graft or the membrane in place.
As with any surgical procedure, there are some risks and side effects associated with having a bone graft. The area may be quite painful and the patient may need pain medication. The graft location can be susceptible to infection. Some patients may have an allergic reaction or reject the graft material.
When a dental implant bone graft is required for an implant, it can add a significant amount of time to overall procedure. Typically there is a three- to nine-month waiting period after the graft before the implant and then dental reconstruction can be performed. The dentist needs to ensure that the bone is completely healed and is sufficient to support the implant.