Defects in the jawbone may arise from various reasons including but not limited to trauma, pathology, congenital defects, and tooth removal. By far, the most common reason for deficiency in jawbone volume is tooth removal. Following tooth extraction, areas of the jawbone associated with missing teeth eventually atrophy leaving inadequate bone volume for placement of dental implants for tooth replacement. In the past, patients in these situations were unable to have dental implants placed due to deficient bone quantity.
Today however, we have the ability to rebuild or “bone graft” these areas of bone that have been lost. This not only gives us the opportunity to place dental implants of proper length and width, it also gives us a chance to restore function and aesthetic appearance.
Where Do Grafts Come From?
The bone used in grafting procedures is either obtained from a tissue bank or from your own body. Bone may be harvested from several areas of the body including the jaw, hip or tibia (below the knee). With modern advancements in tissue banking, most grafting in the mouth can be accomplished with available bone products and not necessitate additional surgery to harvest bone from a separate site on your own body.
Specific Types of Grafts
Socket preservation grafts are bone grafts packed into extraction sites immediately following tooth removal. Their purpose is to prevent atrophy of the jawbone and maintain its width and height in preparation for future implant placement.
Ridge augmentation is used to onlay or layer bone graft material on an area of bone loss in preparation for future implant placement. These grafts are utilized in sites that have been without teeth for an extended period of time and have consequent bone deficiency that is inadequate for implant placement.
Ridge split grafts are similar to ridge augmentation, except rather than onlaying bone to the outer surface of the existing jawbone, the jaw is expanded or “split” and bone graft material is sandwiched between the two sides of native bone to increase its volume.
The maxillary sinuses are air spaces located behind your cheeks and above the upper teeth. These air spaces essentially form the roof of the upper jaw. When sinuses are low, there may be inadequate vertical bone height in the upper jaw to accommodate dental implant placement when necessary.
The solution to this problem is a delicate procedure known as a sinus lift or sinus graft. The sinus lift is performed by elevating the lining of the sinus (sinus membrane) and packing bone beneath it. After several months of healing, this procedure effectively increases the bone height of the upper jaw and allows for placement of dental implants in sound bone.