Bone Grafting

Dental Bone Graft San Diego

Jaw bone health

Just as exercise keeps muscles strong, bone tissue is maintained by use. Natural teeth, embedded in the jawbone, stimulate the bone through activities such as chewing and biting. When teeth are lost, the underlying jawbone no longer receives the necessary stimulation. Over time, it tends to break down and atrophy. This can develop into a variety of additional problems.

Potential consequences of tooth and jawbone loss

  • Problems with remaining teeth, including, misalignment, drifting, loosening and loss
  • Collapsed facial profile
  • Limited lip support
  • Skin wrinkling around the mouth
  • Distortion of other facial features
  • Jaw (temporomandibular joint “TMJ”) pain, facial pain, and headaches
  • Difficulty speaking and communicating
  • Inadequate nutrition as a result of the inability to chew properly and painlessly
  • Sinus expansion

Today, however, we have the ability to grow bone where needed. Implants of proper length and width can be placed in the new bone, and functionality and aesthetic appearance can be restored.

Repairing oral sites that have inadequate bone structure (due to previous extractions, gum disease or other causes) involves surgical placement of bone-graft material at the deficient site. Several types of bone-graft materials are used commonly.

Types of bone-graft material

Autogenous bone grafts

Autogenous bone-graft material, also known as autografts, comes from the patient’s own bone. Such bone is typically harvested from the chin, jaw, lower leg bone, hip, or skull. Autogenous bone grafts have the advantage of containing living cellular elements that enhance bone growth. A downside to the use of autografts, however, is that they require a second surgery to harvest the bone from elsewhere in the body. 

Allogenic bone graft

Allogenic bone-graft material, or allograft, is dead bone harvested from a cadaver and then processed to make it safe and appropriate for surgical use. Unlike autogenous bone, allogenic bone cannot produce new bone on its own. Rather, it serves as a framework or scaffold over which bone from the surrounding bony walls can grow to fill the defect or void.

Xenogenic bone-graft material

Xenogenic bone, or xenograft, is derived from the non-living bone of another species, usually a cow. The bone is processed at very high temperatures to avoid the potential for immune rejection and contamination. Like allogenic grafts, xenogenic grafts serve as a framework for bone from the surrounding area to grow and fill the void.

Both allograft and xenograft material do not require a second procedure to harvest the own bone. However, because these options lack the bone-forming properties of autografts, bone regeneration may take longer and have a less predictable outcome.

Other options

Bone morphogenetic proteins

Bone morphogenetic proteins (BMPs) are proteins naturally produced in the body that promote and regulate bone formation and healing. They may be used in combination with bone-graft materials to enhance the augmentation process. 

In addition, special membranes may be utilized that dissolve under the gum and protect the bone graft and encourage bone regeneration. This is called guided bone regeneration or guided tissue regeneration.