The idea of bone augmentation for improved dental implant surgical procedures has been around for some time. The procedure is considered minimally invasive and can usually be completed in an outpatient capacity. In the simplest of terms, a bone graft is required when there is insufficient jawbone mass to hold a dental implant securely in place. Because implants are secured directly into the jawbone, a substantial lack of bone in the target area will make a dental implant procedure virtually impossible. In some cases, dental implants installed in areas of the jawbone where insufficient bone exists can become unstable and nonfunctional. Everything from missing teeth to gum disease and other conditions can result in a loss of mass in the jawbone. There are even cases where a patient is naturally born with a lack of bone material in the jaw area.
Bone augmentation for dental implants requires a suitable material that is often taken from several different sources. For example, bone material for dental bone grafting purposes can be taken directly from various locations throughout the body such as the hip or lower jaw. These are common sources for bone grafting material because bone sourced in this way is part of the patient’s biology. As a note, the bones found in the hips are a common choice because this particular type of bone has an abundance of bone marrow that helps to accelerate the healing process. Bone can also be sourced from animals such as cows as well as cadavers while various types of synthetic bone-like materials are increasingly produced in the laboratory. Today, the grafting of bone is considered a standard and routine procedure that is not only done for dental patients but also for those with a broad range of other medical conditions including for cosmetic surgery.
Bone augmentation is most useful in preparation for accepting dental implants. Bone grafting material in effect becomes a type of placeholder that is used to mechanically prevent surrounding tissue from collapsing while integration and healing are allowed to occur. This kind of process is sometimes referred to as guided tissue regeneration. It means that the body’s healing process is biomechanically fooled into accepting a bone graft as being natural bone. As such, over time the graft is eventually absorbed by the body and replaced with the patient’s native bone material. What follows is a brief overview of the three types of most frequently used bone augmentations for dental implant procedures.
The Socket Graft Or Alveolar Ridge Preservation Graft
While there are cases where an implant can be placed at the time of tooth extraction, this is usually not the case. That said, something known as a bridge preservation graft is most commonly used. It is intended to fill the void left by a tooth that has been pulled. The procedure helps to efficiently fill the void within the space resulting from tooth extraction while natural bone is given time to grow and fill the space. In most situations, this kind of bone augmentation grafting will require up to six months of stabilization before a dental implant can be placed. The grafting material most commonly used for a ridge preservation graph is derived from animal sources such as from a cow. The material is freeze-dried and sterilized and only contains natural bone mineral content. With this type of procedure, the graft material is immediately introduced into the empty hole resulting from a tooth extraction. Over time integration and healing will occur naturally.
The Block Bone Graft Or Autogenous Ramus/Chin Graft
This is another type of bone grafting for dental implants that is used when more substantial augmentation is needed. With this kind of procedure, the patient’s native bone is harvested as a way to better replace bone in a deficient target area of the jaw. The procedure is usually needed when there is severe jawbone deficiency due to multiple extractions that may not have been properly filled at the time of the original procedure. Other situations such as tumors, cysts or infections associated with missing teeth can result in a substantial loss of bone mass in the jaw. Also, there are cases where the bone is simply lost due to dental trauma caused by injuries or where permanent teeth were missing at birth. All of these conditions, as well as others, can result in severe bone loss requiring more substantial bone augmentation for dental implants. The name of the procedure is associated with where the bone material is most frequently sourced – the chin.
The Sinus Lift Procedure Or The Subantral Graft
This type of grafting procedure addresses the special circumstances sometimes encountered with the upper jaw regarding placing dental implants. That said this area of the jaw is naturally located in proximity to the sinuses. When teeth are lost in this region of the mouth, the result may be minimal bone mass between the oral cavity and sinuses. This can have a direct impact on successful dental implant placement. The procedure is also known as a sinus lift procedure and has been successfully performed over the years to improve dental implant placement. This kind of bone grafting procedure involves making a small opening into the sinus about the roots of the teeth in the upper jaw. While the sinus membrane lining is not breached, a small cavity or space is created and filled with bone augmentation material. Once, this has been accomplished patients usually require up to nine months for the grafting to heal and integrate fully. Eventually, dental implants are placed once the bone augmentation procedure has been a success.
This information is intended to provide a very basic understanding of bone augmentation for dental implants. Discuss your unique and individual dental case with your dental care provider to determine which procedure will best suit your dental health needs.
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