A bone graft is a procedure to replace missing jaw bone. Both maxillary (upper jaw) and mandibular (lower jaw) bone can be replaced.
Dental bone loss occurs naturally after the loss of a tooth. This loss of dental bone may not affect some people at first. However, in most cases, serious dental complications may develop if missing teeth are not restored in a timely fashion. (See What Happens If I Lose A Tooth? for details). A bone graft procedure can be performed immediately following a dental extraction or if teeth have been missing for a long period of time. In larger bone defects, multiple bone grafting procedures may be required.
Oral surgeons perform dental jaw reconstruction and bone grafting procedures. Sinus lift surgery and ridge augmentation surgery are similar procedures that an oral surgeon may perform to correct a bone defect. Some common materials used for dental grafting procedures are: Bovine (cow) bone, cadaver (human) bone, resorbable membranes, and non-resorbable membranes.
A bone graft is most often performed prior to a dental implant. Dental implants require a certain thickness, size, and shape of bone to perform the procedure correctly. An in-depth evaluation and confirmed treatment goal is required before considering bone grafting.
(See Dental Implant for details).