Q. I was told I need to have dental implants but my jawbone structure isn’t adequate. Bone grafting was recommended to me. What is entailed in bone grafting?
A. Bone responds to function. Weightlifters see increased bone mass, while astronauts in zero gravity experience decreased bone mass. Without teeth to apply appropriate forces to stimulate the bone, the bone will go away over time. This is why you need bone grafting to place an implant when a tooth has been missing for a while. Bone grafting is adding bone to replace what has been lost. The bone can come from several sources. It can be your own living bone harvested from another area within your mouth. It can also be from a human donor. This bone is not living and is screened to prevent disease transmission. To my knowledge, no instance of disease transmission has been reported with bone from a U.S. tissue bank. There is also synthetic bone, which has no risk of disease transmission. Lately, the proteins that cause bone to grow have become available commercially. This is known as bone morphogenic protein, or “BMP.” BMP is delivered on a carrier and stimulates your own tissues to form the needed bone. The graft is placed into the deficient area, secured, covered with the gum tissue, and allowed to heal for a period of time (4-8 months). The best bone graft source and healing time is determined for each person’s unique case by your general dentist and oral surgeon.
“Bill” Roger W. Childress, D.D.S., M.D.
East Brainerd Oral Surgery
1350 Mackey Branch Drive
Chattanooga, TN 37421