What is a Bone Graft?

Bone grafting is a very applicable medical technique for several specialties. When a bone or piece of bone is fractured or unstable, there is potential for complex health risks to arise in a patient. With a bone graft, bone is taken to replace or provide support to the afflicted area.

Bone grafts are harvested in a few different ways. First, there are autologous grafts, through which bone is taken from the patient’s own body. A common location for grafting is the iliac crest, which is the outer border of the largest part of the pelvis (the ilium). Other options for bone grafts are a graft from a cadaver sourced from a bone bank, or a synthetic bone replacement meant to mimic the properties of bone.

After the bone graft has been implanted, it is expected to be absorbed by the surrounding bone to guide the natural reparative growth bone normally displays.

Why Use Bone Grafts for Dental Implants?

Dental bone grafting is more specialized in its function and form. It can be utilized to help replace lost bone from tooth loss or extraction, or in more severe cases, bone loss in the jaw.

Socket Preservation Graft

Most people lose bone after a tooth is removed. To prepare for a dental implant, a socket preservation bone graft is utilized. In most cases, a dental implant needs at least a quarter of an inch of bone to be properly installed, though more is preferred. The average implant is 3/16th of an inch, which means 1/16th of an inch of surrounding bone would be left around the implant. This isn’t ideal, because it leaves the implant far less secure. Inevitably, the implant can become compromised.

While this may not matter as much for implants made toward the rear of the mouth, a compromised dental impact in the front of the mouth is many people’s worst nightmare. Since your smile is one of the first things that another person notices about you, a poor implant can affect self-esteem, confidence and overall happiness. An improper dental implant can be very difficult to fix, which is why ensuring there is enough bone through a bone graft is crucial! A socket preservation bone graft will be many patients’ salvation.

Dental bone grafts utilize various bone sources. The graft can come from the chin, lower jaw, iliu or a xenograft from demineralized bovine bone. Another source can come from the dentin of the extracted teeth themselves.

Onlay Bone Graft

Unlike a socket preservation graft, an onlay bone graft is done when the site of an implant has established bone deficiency. Unfortunately, this is a much more invasive procedure because the site has already had time to remodel on its own. To increase bone volume in the area, the same bone materials are utilized, but in greater amount. This is due to the expectation that some of the bone graft will be lost during the healing process.

Bone Grafts for the Jaw, Sinus and More

There are various medical conditions that can cause an unsubstantiated jaw. In some cases, congenital craniofacial conditions such as hemifacial microsomia cause a malformation from birth. To solve this, a bone graft is utilized to lengthen or build up the cheekbone.

For most of the population, jaw loss will be a result of a tooth abscess, facial trauma or periodontal disease. Similar trauma can occur to the sinuses as well. Depending on what the medical condition is, a surgeon will customize its bone grafts to meet the needs of the patient.


How Long Does It Take to Recover from a Dental Bone Graft?

Recovering from a bone graft takes patience. Patients who have a bone graft done in preparation for an implant should be prepared for up to six months of recovery before the implant itself can be installed.


Dental Bone Grafting in the Lehigh Valley

Not all oral surgeons in the Lehigh Valley are prepared to utilize bone grafts prior to a dental implant. This puts patients at greater risk for an implant to be less than satisfactory. At St. Luke’s OMS, we have the knowledge and technology to carry out bone grafts and implants in-house. If you’re ready for improved oral health and a better smile, contact us today at 610-865-8077.