Bone Grafts

After the removal or loss of a tooth, the remaining bone shrinks rapidly at first, ultimately slowing to a progressive shrinking that continues over the years, resulting in the stereotypical shrunken lower jaw that too often characterizes one as “elderly”. This shrinking is natural, but results in an undesirable indentation in your gums and jaw bone where the tooth used to be and occurs because the jaw bone naturally atrophies when it is no longer holding a tooth in place. While the process is natural the indentation itself is unnatural looking, and causes the replacement tooth to look too long in comparison to adjacent teeth.

In this case, maximizing the amount of bony ridge left after extraction is highly desirable to maintain the solid jaw line that characterizes a youthful, healthy appearance. In other words, the progressive shrinking that happens over time is really only prevented by replacing the missing tooth with a dental implant in order to prevent the shrunken jaw that causes one to look prematurely old. The pace of this slow bone loss is difficult to predict and is influenced by the individual patient factors.

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Ridge Preservation

To minimize the rapid shrinking of bone, a bone graft can be placed in the socket at the time of tooth removal. A ridge preservation bone graft helps to minimize the need for treatment with major bone grafting in the future. An implant can then be placed in the new bone four to six months later.

Ridge Augmentation

If a defect exists, a bone graft is placed by increasing ridge height and/or width. This is a technique used to restore the lost bone dimension when the jaw ridge gets too thin to place conventional implants, recapturing the natural contour of your gums and jaw. Bone grafting can repair implant sites with inadequate bone structure due to previous extractions, gum disease or injuries. The bone is either obtained from a tissue bank or from your own body;taken from the jaw. In addition, special membranes may be utilized that protect the bone graft and encourage bone regeneration. This is called guided bone regeneration or guided tissue regeneration. A new implant restoration can then be placed that is natural looking and beautiful.

You don’t have to look older than your years. Ridge augmentation surgery followed by dental implants will preserve your jawline and restore your beautiful smile.

Sinus Lift

The maxillary sinuses are behind your cheeks,above your upper back teeth. Some of the roots of the natural upper teeth extend up into the maxillary sinuses. When these teeth are removed, there is often just a thin wall of bone separating the maxillary sinus and the mouth. Dental implants need bone to hold them in place therefore a sinus graft or sinus lift procedure is needed when the sinus wall is very thin.

The periodontist enters the sinus from where the upper teeth used to be. The sinus membrane is then lifted upward and the bone graft is inserted into the floor of the sinus. After several months of healing, the bone becomes part of the patient’s jaw.

Bone Grafting Overview

For a brief narrated overview of the bone grafting process, please click the image below. It will launch our flash educational MiniModule in a separate window that may answer some of your questions about bone grafting.

Bone Grafting Overview

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If enough bone exists between the upper jaw ridge and the bottom of the sinus to stabilize the implant, sinus augmentations and implant placement can sometimes be performed as a single procedure. If not enough bone is available, the sinus augmentation will have to be performed first, then the graft will have to mature for several months, depending upon the type of graft material used. Once the graft has matured, the implants can be placed.

The sinus graft makes it possible for many patients to have dental implants when years ago there was not an option.