No More Natural Teeth: Deciding Between Implants and Dentures

Dental Implants: How Is Bone Grafting Achieved?

by Jeremiah Barnett

For some people, dental implants require bone grafting. When the tooth to be replaced has been absent for an extended duration, its support system has been compromised. The dental socket is housed in the alveolar ridge, and when the socket no longer supports the tooth, it can lose its density. This density must be restored for successful implant placement, which is why bone grafting can be unavoidable in some cases. But how is it accomplished?

Your Mouth

The best scenario is that your own body provides the bone tissue for the grafting. Your dentist will assess your suitability for the tissue to be extracted from within your mouth. This might be from elsewhere in your dental arch or any suitable location in your mouth. Sometimes this option isn't possible when a person's medical history means that extracting bone tissue from the mouth will further compromise their oral health.

Your Hip and Shin

Bone tissue can be taken from other parts of your body. If this is deemed to be your best choice, it will be taken from either your hip or your shin. Because this is a surgical procedure that requires the surgeon to actually access your bone and remove a tiny portion from the crest of the bone in question, it's performed under general anesthesia. It's efficient, but given the invasive option of the procedure, another option might be preferable.

Donor Tissue

When someone listed as a donor passes away, it's not only their major organs that are earmarked for transplantation. You can receive compatible bone tissue from a donor. These materials were extracted at the time of death and were kept in frozen storage at a tissue bank. It's just a question of your dentist locating a suitable sample.

Animal Tissue

In some cases, your own bone may be unsuitable, and no suitable donor bone may be available. It's not the most common course of action, but animal tissue can be used. This is typically bovine (cow) bone, which in this context, is perfectly compatible. It might be necessary for you to take your own beliefs into account, as some religions or ideologies (such as vegetarianism and veganism) may not permit the use of animal tissues, even for medical use. It's very much a personal decision.

A Synthetic Option

Another option is alloplastic grafting, which is a synthetic graft. Contrary to the name, it's not actually plastic and is primarily made of hydroxyapatite, which is the primary mineral component of human bones. It's simply that this hydroxyapatite was artificially created, and was never part of a bone in any living creature.

When bone grafting is mandatory for your dental implant to be successful, you have multiple options.