Successful dental implants require healthy jawbone as their foundation. According to an American Academy of Implant Dentistry article, when you lose a tooth, the bone shrinks 25 percent in the first three months and up to 50 percent in the first six months. If you have missing teeth, your body begins to resorb the bone because tooth roots are no longer present to stimulate the bone.
Before you get dental implants, a skilled surgeon will ensure you have enough bone to support them. If you do not have enough bone, your surgeon will include grafting in your treatment plan. Your oral surgeon or periodontist can obtain bone graft materials from different sources.
What Are the Types of Dental Implant Bone Graft Materials?
Types of dental implant bone graft materials include:
- Your bone (autograft) – This is the safest and most effective means of obtaining grafting material. Using your bone requires surgery at both the grafting and surgical sites. A surgeon or periodontist (gum specialist) can take bone from the chin, jaw, tibia, or hip. A specialist may harvest bone from the tibia in the office, but the procedure requires IV sedation. Bone taken from your hip requires hospitalization.
- Tissue bank human bone (allograft) – A surgeon may obtain human cadaver bone from a reputable tissue bank. It is more affordable than using your bone. The main concern of this graft type is the risk of disease, an immune reaction, or rejection.
- Animal bone (xenograft) – Sterilized and processed bone, commonly cow bone, can minimize infection. Over time, your body absorbs the bone and replaces it with your bone.
- Mineral bone substitute (alloplast) – This synthetic tissue is second in safety to using your bone. In time your body will resorb and replace it with your tissue.
- Recombinant gene technology-derived protein – This dental product has specific uses in the sinuses and jawbone.
What Happens After Bone Grafting?
Depending on the extent of the graft and the type of material used, it can take four to nine months for the bone to heal, after which your oral surgeon can place your implants. After the implants fuse with your jawbone, your oral surgeon or periodontist will prepare the implant sites for your replacement teeth. A cosmetic dentist can take impressions of your mouth for natural-looking dental crowns or an implant denture.
Dr. Brian LeSage, an accredited Fellow of cosmetic dentistry, sponsors this post.