Bone grafting is a periodontal surgical procedure that is used to supplement jaw bone that has atrophied due to disease or trauma, or in areas where there is naturally less jaw bone. The procedure is most often used prior to a dental implant procedure to supplement the existing bone so the implant post can be properly supported and can sustain the pressures of biting and chewing.
Jaw bone atrophy most commonly occurs following tooth loss. In a healthy jaw, old bone tissue is constantly being replaced by new tissue in a continual cycle that supports healthy teeth. This cycle is dependent upon stimulation from the tooth roots. When a tooth is lost, there is no root to provide stimulation, and the bone replacement cycle stops. That means when old bone cells die, they are not replaced. Over time, the jaw bone in the area of the lost tooth becomes thinner. This atrophy can wind up weakening bone surrounding the roots of neighboring teeth, eventually resulting in additional tooth loss and further bone atrophy. Bone atrophy can also occur when an infection around the tooth root is not properly treated.
Bone grafting usually uses bone tissue harvested from the patient, typically from the palate or elsewhere in the mouth, but it can also use processed bone tissue from a tissue bank. During the procedure, an incision is made in the gum tissue over the treatment site and the bone graft is placed in contact with the existing bone so it can fuse with the bone over time. The existing jaw bone may need to be prepared prior to graft placement. When a graft is being used to support an implant, the grafting procedure often may be performed when the post is implanted. Once the procedure is complete, sutures are used to close the incision. Over-the-counter pain medication may be used to treat any discomfort you may experience afterward.
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