Dental Bone Grafts
During bone grafting, bone is removed from one area and replaced, or grafted, onto another in order to correct cosmetic or functional defects in the mouth. Bone grafting may be necessary prior to certain dental procedures, particularly dental implants. A bone augmentation procedure, also known as distraction osteogenesis, is performed to increase the height of a bone that is too short.
During bone augmentation, a bone for a graft is often taken from within the mouth. At times, the bone may also be taken from the chin, the wisdom tooth region or the upper jaw. For more extensive procedures, the hip or knee may serve as donor sites. Although bone is usually taken from the patient's own body, alternate sources such as prosthetics, cadavers or animal bone may be utilized in some cases.
Types of Dental Bone Grafts
There are several types of bone grafting procedures that may be performed, depending on the individual patient's condition.
A sinus lift is performed when the back part of the upper jaw does not have enough bone to allow implants to be effectively placed. During this procedures, bone is grafted to the bottom of the sinus so that a dental implant may be placed in the upper back jaw. This increases the height of the upper jaw by filling part of the maxillary sinus with bone.
A ridge augmentation, or expansion, is a type of bone graft performed when the jaw is not wide enough to support implants. The dentist uses a special tool to split the jaw along the top, or ridge, and places grafted material into the newly created space.
The inferior alveolar nerve is the nerve that provides feeling to the lower lip and chin. During nerve repositioning, this nerve is moved before placement of dental implants in the lower jaw. The oral surgeon drills a small hole in the bone and moves the nerve to one side. The implants can then be placed through the bony canal, an area previously occupied by this nerve.
Bone grafting is usually a successful procedure, but in rare cases, the bone graft procedure may fail. A failed graft will usually be removed. Once the area has healed, the dentist may decide to place a second graft prior to inserting the dental implants.