Over a period of time, the jawbone associated with missing teeth atrophies or is reabsorbed. This often leaves a condition in which there is poor quality and quantity of bone suitable for placement of dental implants.
Today, we have the ability to grow bone where needed. This not only gives us the opportunity to place implants of proper length and width, it also gives us a chance to restore functionality and aesthetic appearance.
Bone grafting can repair implant sites with inadequate bone structure due to previous extractions, gum disease or injuries. The bone is either obtained as a product (Xenograft) or your own bone can be taken from the jaw, hip or tibia (below the knee). The video on the right shows a bone graft taken from the back of the jaw and secured using bone screws.
Different surgeons have quite different preferences regarding the optimal methods of bone grafting. Dr Hinckfuss’s preference is to use Xenograft as he has found it to be the most predictable method of bone grafting with minimal post-operative pain, less invasive surgical procedures and better aesthetic outcomes, and long-term stability.
The importance of teeth for jaw bone health
When one or more teeth are missing, it can lead to jawbone loss at the site of the gap. This loss of jawbone can develop into additional problems, both with your appearance and your overall health. You may experience pain, problems with your remaining teeth, and altered facial appearance, and eventually even the inability to speak and eat normally.
In the same way that muscles are maintained through exercise, bone tissue is maintained by use. Natural teeth are embedded in the jawbone, and stimulate the jawbone through activities such as chewing and biting. When teeth are missing, the alveolar bone, or the portion of the jawbone that anchors the teeth in the mouth, no longer receives the necessary stimulation and begins to break down, or resorb. The body no longer uses or “needs” the jawbone, so it deteriorates and goes away.
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
Reasons for jawbone loss and deterioration
The following are the most common causes for jawbone deterioration and loss that may require a bone grafting procedure:
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Types of Bone grafts
As with natural teeth, it is important that you clean implant-supported restorations regularly with toothbrushes, floss and any other recommended aids. You should also visit your dentist several times each year for hygiene and maintenance. As with regular dentures and other tooth replacements, your implants and their associated components are subject to wear and tear and eventually will need repair, including clip replacement, relines, screw tightening, and other adjustments. Our policy is to see all patients who have implant surgery in our office at least annually for periodontal maintenance to reduce the risk of problems developing long term. At that visit you will have your implants and teeth inspected, thorough cleaning carried out and also advice on optimisation of your daily home cleaning protocols.
Autogenous bone grafts, also known as autografts, are made from your own bone, taken from somewhere else in the body. The bone is typically harvested from the chin, jaw, lower leg bone, hip, or skull. Autogenous bone grafts are advantageous in that the graft material is live bone, meaning it contains living cellular elements that enhance bone growth. However, one downside to the autograft is that it requires a second procedure to harvest bone from elsewhere in the body. Depending on your condition, a second procedure may not be in your best interest.
Allogenic bone, or allograft, is dead bone harvested from a cadaver, then processed using a freeze-dry method to extract the water via a vacuum. Unlike autogenous bone, allogenic bone cannot produce new bone on it’s 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 is derived from 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 allogenic and xenogenic bone grafting are advantageous in that they do not require a second procedure to harvest your own bone, as with autografts. However, because these options lack autograft’s bone-forming properties, bone regeneration may take longer than with autografts, with a less predictable outcome.
Bone graft substitutes:
As a substitute to using real bone, many synthetic materials are available as a safe and proven alternative, including:
Demineralized Bone Matrix (DBM)/Demineralized Freeze-Dried Bone Allograft (DFDBA):
This product is processed allograft bone, containing collagen, proteins, and growth factors that are extracted from the allograft bone. It is available in the form of powder, putty, chips, or as a gel that can be injected through a syringe.
Graft composites consist of other bone graft materials and growth factors to achieve the benefits of a variety of substances. Some combinations may include: collagen/ceramic composite, which closely resembles the composition of natural bone, DBM combined with bone marrow cells, which aid in the growth of new bone, or a collagen/ceramic/autograft composite.
Bone Morphogenetic Proteins:
Bone morphogenetic proteins (BMPs) are proteins naturally produced in the body that promote and regulate bone formation and healing.
Synthetic materials also have the advantage of not requiring a second procedure to harvest bone, reducing risk and pain. Each bone grafting option has its own risks and benefits. Dr. Drs. Hinckfuss, McGregor, Mitchell, Chin will determine which type of bone graft material is right for you.
Note: Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks. Before proceeding, you should seek advice from an appropriately qualified health practitioner.