A bone graft is often necessary to boost the thickness or density of your jawbone before a dental implant can be placed. During the dental implant surgery, the dentist drills a hole into your jawbone and inserts the implant (that acts as a tooth root) into the hole. The jawbone needs to be strong and thick enough to support the handle the hole and act as an anchor for the implant. An inadequate jawbone, thus, requires the dentist to build up the jawbone first in a process known as bone grafting.
Causes of Low Bone Density
Many people don't need bone grafts before dental implant treatment, but you might need it if you have struggled with any of the following problems.
Some diseases attack the bone and interfere with its density, especially if early treatment is not received. Osteoporosis is a classic example of such diseases, but others include diabetes, hyperparathyroidism, rickets, and Paget's disease, among others.
Long-Term Missing Tooth
Your teeth stimulate the jawbone and help the bone tissues to retain their vitality. If you lose a tooth, the stimulation decreases, and with it, the jawbone density. The longer you stay without a tooth, the more the jawbone below it reduces in density.
Apart from tooth loss, dental misalignment or malocclusion also reduces the stimulation your jawbone receives to maintain its vitality. Thus, you might need a graft if you have been living with malocclusion for a long time.
Periodontal disease usually starts out as gum disease confined to the soft tissues. Without treatment, however, the gum disease can intensify and spread to the jawbone. Thus, periodontal disease can also weaken the jawbone and necessitate a bone graft before implant treatment.
The material used to build up the jawbone must come from somewhere; below are the four most common sources.
The dentist harvests the bone tissues from a part of your body, such as the hip region, and implants it in the jaw. The main advantage is that your body will accept the donor tissues readily. The main disadvantage is that you have to deal with two surgical sites – the donor and graft areas.
Another Person's Bone
The procedure is similar as above except that the bone tissues come from another person's body. You won't have to deal with two surgical sites. However, there is a slight risk of getting an infection from the donor tissue.
An Animal's Bone
Sterile bone tissue from an animal, such as a cow, acts as the donor tissue. Animal bone tissues are relatively cheap, but they also carry a small risk of infection.
An Artificial Material
In this case, the dentist uses a manufactured (synthetic material) as the donor tissue. The risk is that the integration of the donor tissue with your body tissues might not be very thorough. However, the risk of infection is almost negligible.
For more information about dental implants and your possible need for a bone graft, contact your dentist.