What is bone grafting?

Bone grafting is an oral procedure that enables us to grow bone where needed and promote new bone growth where the jaw bone may be sparse or of poor quality due to atrophy. The bone structure in the jaw weakens over time if missing teeth aren’t replaced promptly. This often leads to poor quality and quantity of bone, making the jaw unsuitable for the placement of dental implants. But with a bone grafting procedure, Dr. Rayher can repair this deficiency through several different treatments. Whether a bone graft is used to fix a single tooth site, a large area where multiple teeth have been lost, or a congenital defect, Union Square Oral Surgery & Dental Implant Center in San Francisco, CA, has a solution to restore your oral function and aesthetic appearance.

Socket Preservation

Why do I need a bone graft?

Jaw bone deficiency can arise from various oral health problems or as a result of multiple dental issues occurring at once. The most common problems resulting in a decrease in the height and width of the jaw bone include the following:

You Are Missing a Tooth or Multiple Teeth.

When you are missing a tooth and do not replace it in a time-efficient manner, the jaw bone does not receive proper stimulation from activities such as chewing. Consequently, it begins to decrease in size and strength in the area that previously anchored the tooth root. The rate of deterioration varies greatly among individuals, making it difficult to determine the amount of jaw bone loss an individual has suffered without proper examination by a qualified oral and maxillofacial surgeon. In general, jaw bone resorption usually begins to occur immediately following the loss or removal of a tooth and continues to worsen as time goes on.

You Suffer from Severe Periodontal Disease.

Periodontal disease is one of the most common infections that affects the teeth, gum tissues, and jaw bone. There are two major types of periodontal disease: gingivitis and periodontitis. Gingivitis is primarily caused by dental plaque — the bacteria and food particles that accumulate in your mouth on a regular basis. If the teeth aren’t cleaned properly with routine hygiene efforts, the bacteria in the plaque can create swelling, inflammation, the formation of pockets in the gums (which are difficult to clean and begin to house more bacteria), and the formation of tartar (hardened plaque). If gingivitis is not treated properly, it can progress to a more severe infection — periodontitis — which causes the supporting gum tissue and bone holding the teeth in place to deteriorate and leads to tooth loosening and, ultimately, tooth loss.

You Have Unanchored Dentures or Bridgework.

Unlike dental implants, unanchored dentures and bridgework do not replace the missing tooth root and contribute to jaw bone deterioration. Unanchored dentures are placed on top of the gum line and lack the ability to provide direct stimulation to the jaw bone. The inevitable bone loss can lead to loosening of the denture, problems speaking and eating, and the need for a stronger adhesive or even a full new set. Bridgework is attached to two healthy teeth that do stimulate growth; however, the area over which the bridge spans cannot properly stimulate the underlying jaw bone. A bone grafting procedure can halt and correct the jaw bone damage caused by these prosthetic options.

You Have a Jaw Bone Infection or Tumor.

If you develop a jaw bone infection, such as osteomyelitis, or discover a tumor in your jaw, immediate treatment of the condition is advised to avoid inflammation, a reduction in blood supply to the bone, or spreading of the tumor to other areas of the jaw. You may need to have a portion of the jaw bone removed to mitigate the spread of the infection or tumor growth. A bone graft can be used to reconstruct and restore function to the jaw and allow for future bone growth. If the infection spreads or the tumor is malignant, additional treatment with antibiotics or the removal of soft tissue may also be required.

You Have a Genetic Defect or Sinus Deficiency.

It is not uncommon for individuals to need a bone grafting procedure as a result of a birth defect. Conditions characterized by missing bone in the teeth, facial bones, jaw, or skull can be treated with this technique to replace the missing bone and stimulate healthy bone growth following the procedure. This can also be used to treat individuals who develop a sinus deficiency in the upper jaw that can occur following molar removal. As the sinuses become enlarged, the height of the jaw bone decreases, and a bone grafting procedure may be necessary to replace the missing tooth with a dental implant.

Where does my bone graft come from?

There are various bone grafting techniques that can be used to restore jaw function, and the type of bone used will depend on the specific needs of each patient. At Union Square Oral Surgery & Dental Implant Center in San Francisco, we can either obtain bone from a tissue bank for your procedure or use your own bone. If your own bone is utilized, it may be taken from the skull, jaw, hip, or tibia (below the knee), depending on the amount of bone needed for the graft. Dr. Rayher may also utilize special membranes that dissolve under the gum tissue to protect the graft and stimulate healing and bone growth.

If you are in need of a bone grafting procedure, Dr. Rayher will complete a thorough oral consultation and X-ray evaluation of your gums, teeth, and jaws. He will discuss your options for jaw bone repair so that you are fully informed about which bone grafting technique will provide you with the optimal outcome that you desire. Each bone grafting option has its own risks and benefits, and we will work closely with you to develop a plan for jaw bone repair that will restore both function and aesthetics to the mouth.