Bone Grafting for Implants

Do I Have Enough Bone?

After tooth extraction, if the walls of the socket are very thick, they will usually fill naturally with bone in two to three months. However, when the walls of your socket are very thin (such as in your upper and lower front teeth), this type of healing will not be as predictable. In these situations, a bone graft is often placed at the time of tooth extraction to help your body fill in the empty socket with bone. This step will maintain the width and volume of bone you will need for implant placement several months later.

Inadequate Bone for dental implant
1. Inadequate Bone
Bone Graft Material Placed
2. Graft Material Placed
After Dental Implants Placed
3. Implants Placed

There may be inadequate bone for implant placement if your tooth was removed many years ago and your bony ridge is extremely thin. In this case, a bone graft can be placed next to the thin bone and allowed to heal for up to six months. After the graft has fused to your pre-existing bone, the ridge will be re-entered and the implant placed. Bone grafting is usually a relatively comfortable office procedure. Many different bone-grafting materials are available, including your own bone.

Inadequate Bone for dental implant
1. Inadequate Bone
Bone Graft Material and Dental Implant Placed
2. Graft Material and Implant Placed

You may also need bone grafting if the sinus cavities in your upper jaw are very large, or very low, and extend into the tooth-bearing areas. This often occurs when teeth in the back of a person’s upper jaw have been removed many years before, and the amount of bone available for implant placement is limited. A “sinus grafting procedure” is then required. Most often, it is performed in the office with local anesthesia and perhaps sedation. During this procedure, the membrane that lines the sinus will be located and elevated. Bone will then be added to restore the bone height and ensure that dental implants of an adequate length can be placed. This procedure often can be performed at the time of implant placement.

Oral and Maxillofacial surgeons are the only specialists that have the ability to harvest one’s own tissue (from various sites, both in the mouth and out of the mouth) to allow for placement of a dental implant in the most ideal location for the most predictable results. The decision of what type of bone graft to use should be based on what is best for your individual situation and not on what the treating doctor is limited to. Being the facial bone experts, oral and maxillofacial surgeons are uniquely trained to be able to augment your bone in a multitude of ways as well as use advanced techniques (such as Zygomatic implants) to eliminate the need for bony augmentation. Ask your dentist for a referral to Avalon Orofacial Surgery for the level of care provided by our team of dually qualified surgeons.