Dental implants are substitute tooth roots which are placed in the jaw bone. In order for an implant to be successful, the patient must have sufficient bone tissue to support the implant. If there is not enough bone tissue in the jaw bone, the bone will not be able to support the implant. In the past, this meant that it was not feasible for a patient to have dental implants – however, technology and science are advancing at a rapid rate and patients who have reduced bone tissue are now able to have treatment as a result of bone grafting.
Bone grafting involves taking bone tissue from one area of high density and using it to bulk up an area of low density. In this case, the bone is removed from one area of the body and placed in the jaw bone. Bone grafts are most often taken from either the hip or another area of the mouth. The bone grafting procedure will be carried out if your dentist has discovered insufficient bone tissue in the jaw.
There are different types of bone graft but the most common is called an Autograft (also known as Autogenous). This is where bone is taken from another part of the patient's body and used to bolster the jaw bone. It is also possible to use bone grafts taken from animals (xenografts) or other humans (allograft). A type of procedure called an alloplastic graft can also be conducted where synthetic material is used to strengthen the jaw bone.
As with all procedures success is not guaranteed, but bone grafting is usually a very effective procedure. Following a bone graft the patient will have to wait an average of 3-4 months for the bone to integrate, which will obviously delay the treatment process. However, the wait will be worthwhile once the implants are placed and you are in possession of a rejuvenated smile.