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Dental implants

What if there is no enough bone?

Bone grafting

This is a procedure which is undertaken as part of the dental implant process and involves the harvesting of bone from one area of the body which is then grafted onto the jawbone.

Bone grafts are performed where someone has insufficient bone density in their jaw to support a dental implant. It is important that there is enough bone volume to enable the implant to secure itself to the jaw and support a false tooth.

A bone graft is undertaken to bulk out a shrunken jawbone or one that has become too thin due to bone loss.

Is there more than one type of bone graft?

There are four types of bone grafts which are:

  • Autograft
  • Allograft
  • Alloplastic graft
  • Xenograft

Autograft

This type of graft is where bone is taken from an area within your body, for example the hip or mouth and is then implanted into the jawbone.

This is the best form of bone graft.

Allograft

This also involves natural bone but the grafts are taken from a range of human donors. This differs from the autograft in which bone is harvested from within your own body.

This sample of bone is cleaned and sterilised before implantation. Your body accepts this graft and absorbs this into your own natural bone.

Alloplastic graft

This involves the use of a synthetic or man-made material as the graft instead of natural bone. This is an artificial form of calcium which is either absorbable or non-absorbable and helps to produce enough bone for a dental implant.

Xenograft

This differs in that it uses bone taken from an animal source such as cows (bovine) which is then sterilised under highly stringent conditions to ensure it is compatible with the human body.

It is gradually replaced with natural human bone over time.

How is a bone graft performed?

This is performed under a local anaesthetic. This anaesthetic is applied to two areas: the donor site (e.g. hip) and the recipient site (e.g. the jawbone).

A section of bone is removed from the donor site and replaced with a synthetic alternative. A series of incisions are made in the recipient area which result in bleeding which also stimulates the healing process. This blood comes into contact with the new bone which speeds up healing.

The harvested bone is fixed in place with special screws and bone marrow. The incisions are closed with stitches.  

You will be prescribed painkillers and antibiotics after the procedure.

Risks of a bone graft

There is the ever present risk of rejection. The new bone may be rejected by the body although it can be replaced with another graft.

This procedure can sometimes involve an overnight stay in hospital and a general anaesthetic. There are a few risks with a general anaesthetic although these will be explained to you beforehand.

Follow any instructions given which will include stopping smoking and following a healthy lifestyle which will reduce these risks. 

Local bone grafting

This refers to an autograft which is the most popular and most successful type of bone graft. This is a local graft in that the donor bone is taken from an area within your body before being placed into your jaw.