When dental patients with missing teeth do not have enough jawbone density to support a titanium implant, bone grafting can make implants possible where dentures would otherwise be the only option. Here is an explanation of dental bone grafting and some of the causes of jawbone loss.
Jawbone Deterioration Causes
Loss of one or more teeth leads to deterioration of the jawbone beneath where the tooth used to be. This is because the teeth stimulate the jawbone through everyday activities such as chewing. When teeth are lost, the body begins to reabsorb parts of the jawbone because it thinks they are "no longer needed" due to a lack of stimulation.
Another cause of jawbone degradation after tooth loss is bacterial invasion of the empty dental socket. Bacteria that gather in the exposed socket can cause infection and inflammation in the surrounding soft tissues. The body's immune response can degrade the jawbone as it fights off the bacterial infection.
Socket Grafts Vs. Block Bone Grafts
Socket grafts and block bone grafts are the two most common types of bone grafting used in dentistry. Socket grafts are effective for minor to moderate jawbone degradation. In this type of graft, the tooth socket is filled with tightly packed granular bone. The granules support the surrounding jawbone, eventually fusing with it and forming a solid mass that can support a dental implant.
Block bone grafts are used in cases where larger portions of the jawbone have worn away. In this procedure, screws are used to secure a thin plate of bone taken from elsewhere to the deteriorated area. The newly grafted bone is then covered with granular bone so that it will easily fuse with the surrounding bone.
Bone Graft Origin
The material that is used to repair the jawbone can come from a number of sources both within your own body and elsewhere. The tibia, pelvic bone, and healthy sections of the jawbone that do not support teeth are popular origins from within the patient's body. Using the patient's bone for grafting is always preferred to minimize the chance of the graft being rejected.
External bone graft origins are varied and are typically only used when the patient's own bone is not viable for grafting. Artificial ceramic bone is one option, but this material does not fuse to the jawbone as well as natural bone. Other common sources include sterilized cadaver or cow bone.
Through the use of bone grafting, dental implants can be a viable tooth replacement option at any age. Talk to a local dentist, such as Aaron G Birch, DDS PC, to see if a graft-support implant would be effective for restoring your natural smile.
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