About Bone Grafting

What is Bone Grafting?

When a patient loses teeth, or when they have infections around their teeth, or when their teeth fracture, the bone that was previously around the teeth disappears.  This is called atrophy.  If the bone is atrophic, with poor quality and less bulk than prior to losing the teeth, bone grafting may be indicated to reconstruct the missing bone for placement of implants.

Today, we have the ability to grow bone where needed. This not only gives us the opportunity to place implants of proper length and width, it also gives us a chance to restore functionality and aesthetic appearance.

Types of Bone Grafts

Autogenous Bone Grafts

Autogenous bone grafts, also known as autografts, are made from your own bone, taken from somewhere else in the body. The bone is typically harvested from the chin, jaw, lower leg bone, hip, or the skull. Autogenous bone grafts are advantageous in that the graft material is your own live bone, meaning it contains living cellular elements that enhances bone growth, also eliminating the risk of your body rejecting the graft material since it comes from you.

However, one downside to the autograft is that it requires a second procedure to harvest bone from elsewhere in the body. Depending on your condition, a second procedure may not be recommended.

Allogenic Bone

Allogenic bone, or allograft, is dead bone harvested from a cadaver, then processed using a freeze-dry method to extract the water via a vacuum. Unlike autogenous bone, allogenic bone cannot produce new bone on it’s own. Rather, it serves as a framework, or scaffold, over which bone from the surrounding bony walls can grow to fill the defect or void.

Xenogenic Bone

Xenogenic bone is derived from non-living bone of another species, usually a cow. The bone is processed at very high temperatures to avoid the potential for immune rejection and contamination. Like allogenic grafts, xenogenic grafts serve as a framework for bone from the surrounding area to grow and fill the void.

Both allogenic and xenogenic bone grafting have an advantage of not requiring a second procedure to harvest your own bone, as with autografts. However, because these options lack autograft’s bone-forming properties, bone regeneration may take longer than with autografts, and have a less predictable outcome.

Bone Graft Substitutes

As a substitute to using real bone many synthetic materials are available as safe and proven alternatives, including:

Demineralized Bone Matrix (DBM)/Demineralized Freeze-Dried Bone Allograft (DFDBA)

This product is processed allograft bone, containing collagen, proteins, and growth factors that are extracted from the allograft bone. It is available in the form of powder, putty, chips, or as a gel that can be injected through a syringe.

Graft Composites

Graft composites consist of other bone graft materials and growth factors to achieve the benefits of a variety of substances. Some combinations may include: collagen/ceramic composite, which closely resembles the composition of natural bone, DBM combined with bone marrow cells, which aid in the growth of new bone, or a collagen/ceramic/autograft composite.

Bone Morphogenetic Proteins

Bone morphogenetic proteins (BMPs) are proteins naturally produced in the body that promote and regulate bone formation and healing.

Synthetic materials also have the advantage of not requiring a second procedure to harvest bone, reducing risk and pain. Each bone grafting option has its own risks and benefits. Dr. Block will determine which type of bone graft material best suited to your particular needs.