When you are looking for a way to restore a single tooth or set of teeth, chances are you have come across oral implants.
Acting like a prosthetic root, oral implants physically resemble small titanium screws which are attached to your jaw via a fitting. Traditionally, there are 4 different types of oral implants currently used by dental practitioners; endosteal, zygomatic, subperiosteal and mini or micro-implants. Once these have fused to the jaw, a prosthetic tooth or teeth are then placed onto the implants, allowing you to have a fully functioning set of teeth, which are secure and feel more realistic than dentures.
Sounds simple, doesn’t it? Well, in some instances, especially with endosteal implants, your dentist may want to attempt bone grafting before fitting dental implants. Why? Because you may have insufficient bone to support an implant properly and they may feel that you are unsuited to micro or mini implants.
What is bone grafting?
Bone grafting involves your dentist placing you under local anaesthetic and making a small incision into your gum.
They will then place a piece of bone and set it in place by firmly sewing up the incision. Depending on how many dental implants you are having fitted, they may do this multiple times in one sitting. Once placed, there will be a period of between 3-6 months for the bone graft to fuse with the regular bone.
Why bone loss occurs
Why choose bone grafting? There are many ailments which may cause bone loss and to boost your chances of having dental implants fitted successfully, your dentist may wish to attempt this as a first step.
Causes of bone loss may include severe periodontal disease, dental extractions, dentures (which may rub and erode the bone) and even trauma to the facial area. There are different types of bone grafts which your dentist may try, depending on the severity of the bone loss.
This graft type will typically be taken from your own body. Your dentist may choose to remove the bone from your chin, hip or shin bone; this type of graft has the lowest chance of rejection.
Taken from another person (usually a cadaver), this graft is thoroughly sterilised before being placed. With no secondary surgery to remove the bone from your own body, this is usually the fastest option.
As the name suggests, a xenograft comes from an animal; typically a cow or pig. Like an allograft, the animal it has been taken from will usually be deceased and the bone itself will once again require extensive sterilisation.
And finally, if you do not wish to have a bone graft which has been taken from another person or an animal, your dentist may suggest an alloplastic graft. Made from calcium carbonate and hydroxyapatite, this is a type of synthetic bone which has a minimal rejection rate, and is renowned for being as sturdy as a traditional bone. Great stuff!
Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks. Before proceeding you should seek a second opinion from an appropriately qualified health practitioner.