Good oral health depends on several factors like regular brushing and flossing, diet, and positive lifestyle behaviours. When one component fails, there are numerous, long-term side effects, including tooth loss. Missing teeth due to trauma, disease, or decay can cause severe oral health problems such as misalignment, gum disease, and bone deterioration.
It’s essential to replace missing teeth with high-quality tooth restoration procedures. Dental implants are a long-term solution to missing teeth. They act as an artificial tooth root to stabilise the jaw, allowing the mouth to function as normal.
While most people are suitable candidates for dental implants, patients with low jawbone density sometimes require a bone graft to make a dental implant possible. What are the main bone grafting materials used for dental implants?
The overall impact of missing teeth is a loss of integrity of the dental arch. When the dental arch is compromised, it becomes weakened and can even change the shape of your face. If you want to prevent dental problems which result from missing teeth, a dental implant is your best option.
Dental implants have several benefits:
- They have a higher success rate than any other method of tooth replacement.
- They fuse with your jaw to act like a normal tooth.
- They are made from long-lasting material, potentially lasting a lifetime.
- They prevent facial structure deterioration.
- They are low maintenance.
The Relationship Between Bone Grafts and Dental Implants
A bone graft isn’t always needed with a dental implant. The only reason a bone graft is used is when the jawbone isn’t in optimal condition; either because the jaw isn’t thick enough or the tissue is too soft.
When biting and chewing, the jaw muscles exert immense pressure on the bone. If the jawbone is not dense or thick enough to support the dental implant, you could damage your dental arch further, or cause the implant to fail.
Understanding the Jawbone
There are two dental arches in the mouth, the upper arch and the lower arch. Each arch has 16 teeth, 32 teeth in total. The bone supporting the lower teeth is called the mandibular bone, while the one which supports the upper teeth is called the maxillary bone. The upper jaw is most likely to require a bone graft, as vertical bone resorption is up to four times higher in the maxillary arch than the mandibular arch. This often means that it is not stable enough to hold a dental implant.
The alveolar bone is part of the jawbone and is responsible for holding the teeth, ensuring they stay securely in place. This is further split into the supporting alveolar bone and the alveolar bone proper. Microscopically, these are both similar—containing the same cells, nerves, and fibres—yet it is the alveolar bone proper which touches the tooth root.
It is the loss of the alveolar bone proper, which results in the need for a bone graft. If this bone is not strong enough, it will be unable to hold a dental implant.
When is a Bone Graft Needed?
A bone graft is needed if there is damaged or missing bone in the jaw; an appropriate bone graft material is used to build up the preexisting weakened jawbone. The most common cause of bone loss in the mouth is from missing teeth, especially when multiple teeth are missing.
Chronic periodontitis can also cause significant jawbone deterioration. This oral disease occurs when excess dental plaque and bacteria cause the periodontal tissues to become severely inflamed. This, in turn, results in jawbone deterioration and eats away at the ligaments which connect the jawbone to the teeth.
To restore oral health, both healthy teeth and jawbone are needed. If the jawbone is beginning to deteriorate, a graft is necessary to stimulate bone tissue growth. A bone graft, taken from suitable bone graft material, and subsequent dental implants help restore the mouth to optimal functioning.
What is Used for Bone Graft Material?
Most often, bone graft material will be taken from your own body. It may be sourced from your jawbone or another area of the body.
However, this is not the only option; human and animal donors can also provide the required bone material. When the bone is externally sourced, you don’t need an additional surgical procedure. This can be a significant benefit for people who want to minimise dental work.
Some common bone graft material options:
- Alloplast Bone Graft is a synthetic material, made from hydroxyapatite. This material is not carcinogenic or inflammatory, making it a safe choice.
- Allograft Tissue occurs when a healthy deceased person donates this tissue.
- Autograft Tissue involves taking tissue from one part of your body and transplanting it to your jaw.
- Xenograft Tissue comes from an animal source.
The Best Bone Grafting Material for Dental Implant
There isn’t one best bone graft material; there are several good options which can be selected depending on your specific circumstance.
Allograft materials are widely used in dentistry, but like all the other types of bone graft material, they can have drawbacks, including autoimmune reaction and transplant rejection. Take time to talk to your dentist if you want to choose the right bone grafting material for your dental implant.
The Bone Graft Procedure
If you have gum disease or have lost an adult tooth—not including wisdom teeth—you may need a dental bone graft. There are different types of dental bone graft:
This procedure can be performed at the same time as tooth extraction and helps prevent any subsequent bone loss; it also readies your jaw for any future dental implants.
Block Bone Graft
Bone is removed from near your wisdom teeth and is used for a bone graft.
This may be required if you have missing molars on your upper dental arch. The sinus lift involves raising the sinus membrane to create space in the maxillary jaw to place the bone graft, and subsequently, the dental implant.
A bone graft is a relatively minor and straightforward procedure. An incision is made to expose your jawbone; then new bone material is grafted to it using a biocompatible matrix containing proteins and growth factors. Your own bone creates new bone cells to fuse with the grafted material, helping you build bone in the required place.
A bone graft can take a few months to heal before you are ready for a dental implant; this gives your jawbone time to fuse with the bone graft.
Contact No Gaps Dental for Long-Lasting Tooth Restoration
If you need to replace missing teeth, dental implants are the best option for long-term oral health. Contact us at (02) 8007 6727 and arrange an appointment with one of our dentists to find the best bone graft material for your situation.
Note: Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks.