Bone grafts or bone replacements, sometimes called bone replacement therapy is a very serious, invasive oral surgical procedure. It becomes necessary when a patient wants to get a dental implant, but the tooth has been missing for so long that the alveolus is entirely missing and the bones have become too thin to house a dental implant. In these cases the bones need to be augmented, and the bones must become denser. To do this, artificial bone material is inserted underneath the gums, and is sewn up, with the dental implant in it. When the material sets, the dental implant will be stable, and replacing the tooth can continue.
Bone grafts are done in a single sitting. It is usually around 60-90 minutes, and is done while the patient is still awake. It is an invasive surgery in which the gums will be surgically opened, and the material put into the quadrant together with the dental implant. The area will be sewn up, and allowed to heal. The healing time is around six months, but can be more. During this time, the material will set and harden, and become like the bone, fusing with your jawbones and becoming indistinguishable from it.
When to get a bone graft
Bone grafts are part and parcel of dental implant therapy, and are only used to beef up the jawbones so they can house a dental implant. There is no other reason that people get them.
At our clinic we can do bone grafts from the person's own body, or from artificial bone grafting material. Xeno grafts, taken from pigs and cows usually, are much rarer, and are no longer in use. Certain conditions, like diabetes, osteoporosis and other systemic diseases can exclude you from getting a bone graft. Talk to your dentist and see if you will be needing a bone graft. If your tooth has been missing for more than a year, and the tooth root has been out, than it is very likely that you will need one.