Bone grafting is a procedure that is done to preserve or build up the jaw bone, often in conjunction with dental implant treatments. Bone grafting can range from very simple to very complex. The simplest form of bone grafting is known as socket preservation. Socket preservation is done when a tooth is extracted. When the tooth is removed, bone graft material is placed into the socket where the tooth was, a membrane is placed over the graft to hold the material in place, and the area is stitched closed. Generally this area is allowed to heal for 3-4 months, and then a dental implant may be placed into the new bone. The purpose of socket preservation is to prevent the bone from collapsing as it is healing from the tooth extraction. If no bone graft is placed after a tooth is extracted, it may heal in a way that makes implant placement more difficult or not possible.
For patients that have been missing teeth for several years or more, the bone in the area where the teeth used to be may have shrunk considerably. In these cases, it may be necessary to do bone grafting to build up the amount of bone to allow implants to be placed. This type of bone grafting is more involved than the socket preservation described above.
So where does the bone come from? Most commonly the bone is an allograft, which means that it comes from a human tissue bank. The bone is sterilized and comes freeze dried in a bottle. We also may use your own bone taken from another area of the jaw.
Bone grafting is a wonderful technique that allows dental implants to be placed where they otherwise could not. Dr. Engle is specially trained in many forms of bone grafting, and he performs these procedures here in our office.