Bone Grafting FAQ

About Bone Grafting

Over a period of time, the jaw bone associated with missing teeth will atrophy and is reabsorbed. This often leaves a condition in which there is poor quality and quantity of bone suitable for placement of dental implants. In these situations, the treatment can become more complicated and require rebuilding of the missing bone.

With bone grafting, we now have the opportunity to not only replace bone where it is missing, but also the ability to promote new bone growth in that location! This not only gives us the opportunity to place dental implants of proper length and width, it also gives us a chance to restore functionality and esthetic appearance.

The key to a successful and long-lasting dental implant is the quality and quantity of jaw bone to which the implant will be attached. If bone loss has occurred, we will discuss what type of treatment will be necessary. Understandably, many patients have questions about bone grafting.

Frequently asked questions

  • Why does jaw bone deterioration happen?

    The following are the most common causes for jaw bone deterioration and loss that may require a bone grafting procedure:

    Tooth Extractions

    When an adult tooth is removed and not replaced, jaw bone deterioration may occur. Natural teeth are embedded in the jaw bone, and stimulate the jaw bone through activities such as chewing and biting. The body no longer uses or “needs” the jaw bone, so it deteriorates and goes away.

    The rate the bone deteriorates, as well as the amount of bone loss that occurs, varies greatly among individuals. However, most loss occurs within the first eighteen months following the extraction, and continues throughout life.

    Periodontal Disease

    Periodontal diseases are ongoing infections of the gums that gradually destroy the support of your natural teeth. Periodontal disease affects one or more of the periodontal tissues: alveolar bone, periodontal ligament, cementum, or gingiva. While there are many diseases which affect the tooth-supporting structures, plaque-induced inflammatory lesions make up the majority of periodontal issues.

    Periodontitis is affected by bacteria that adhere to the tooth’s surface, along with an overly aggressive immune response to these bacteria. If gingivitis progresses into periodontitis, the supporting gum tissue and bone that holds teeth in place deteriorates. The progressive loss of this bone, the alveolar, can lead to loosening and subsequent loss of teeth.

    Dentures/Bridgework

    Unanchored dentures are placed on top of the gum line, but they do not provide any direct stimulation to the underlying bone. Over time, the lack of stimulation causes the bone to resorb and deteriorate. Because this type of denture relies on the bone to hold them in place, people often experience loosening of their dentures and problems eating and speaking.

    Facial Trauma

    When a tooth is knocked out or broken to the extent that no biting surface is left below the gum line, bone stimulation stops, which results in jaw bone loss. Some common forms of tooth and jaw trauma include: teeth knocked out from injury or accident, jaw fractures, or teeth with a history of trauma that may die and lead to bone loss years after the initial trauma.

    A bone grafting procedure would be necessary to reverse the effects of bone deterioration, restoring function and promoting new bone growth in traumatized areas.

    Misalignment

    Misalignment issues can create a situation in the mouth where some teeth no longer have an opposing tooth structure. The unopposed tooth can over-erupt, causing deterioration of the underlying bone.

    Issues such as TMJ problems, normal wear-and-tear, and lack of treatment can also create abnormal physical forces that interfere with the teeth’s ability to grind and chew properly. Over time, bone deterioration can occur where bone is losing stimulation.

    Osteomyelitis

    Osteomyelitis is a type of bacterial infection in the bone and bone marrow of the jaw. The infection leads to inflammation, which can cause a reduction of blood supply to the bone. Treatment for osteomyelitis generally requires antibiotics and removal of the affected bone. A bone graft procedure may then be required to restore bone function and growth lost during removal.

    Developmental Deformities

    Some conditions or syndromes known as birth defects are characterized by missing portions of the teeth, facial bones, jaw or skull. Drs. Markle or Herman may be able to perform a bone graft procedure to restore bone function and growth where it may be absent.

    Sinus Deficiencies

    When molars are removed from the upper jaw, air pressure from the air cavity in the maxilla (maxillary sinus), causes resorption of the bone that formerly helped the teeth in place. As a result, the sinuses become enlarged, a condition called hyperpneumatized sinus.

    This condition usually develops over several years, and may result in insufficient bone for the placement of dental implants. Drs. Markle or Herman can perform a procedure called a “sinus lift” that can treat enlarged sinuses.

  • Why should I replace missing teeth?

    When one or more teeth are missing it can lead to bone loss at the site of the gap. This loss of jaw bone can develop into additional problems, both with your appearance and your overall health. In the same way that muscles are maintained through exercise, bone tissue is maintained by use. When teeth are missing, the portion of the jaw bone that anchors the teeth into the mouth no longer receives necessary stimulation to remain strong, and begins to break down, or resorb. The body no longer uses or “needs” the jaw bone, so it deteriorates.

    Some potential consequences of tooth and jaw bone loss are:
    • Problems with remaining teeth, including, misalignment, drifting, loosening and loss
    • Collapsed facial profile
    • Limited lip support
    • Skin wrinkling around the mouth
    • Distortion of other facial features
    • Jaw (temporomandibular joint [TMJ]) pain, facial pain, and headaches
    • Difficulty speaking and communicating
    • Inadequate nutrition as a result of the inability to chew properly and painlessly
    • Sinus expansion
  • What if I don't have enough bone for a dental implant?

    There may be inadequate bone for implant placement if your tooth was removed many years ago and your bony ridge is extremely thin. In this case, a bone graft can be placed next to the thin bone and allowed to heal for up to six months. After the graft has fused to your pre-existing bone, the ridge will be re-entered and the implant placed. Bone grafting is usually a relatively comfortable office procedure. Many different bone-grafting materials are available, including your own bone.
  • What is Ridge Augmentation?

    A ridge augmentation is a common dental procedure often performed following a tooth extraction to help recreate the natural contour of the gums and jaw that may have been lost due to bone loss as a result of a tooth extraction, or for another reason.When a tooth is removed, an empty socket is left in the bone. Usually this empty socket will heal on its own, filling with bone and tissue. Sometimes when a tooth is removed, the bone surrounding the socket breaks, and it unable to heal on its own. The previous height and width of the socket will continue to deteriorate.

    Rebuilding the original height and width of the bone may be required for dental implant placement, or for aesthetic purposes. Dental implants require bone to support their structure, and a ridge augmentation can help rebuild this bone to accommodate the implant.

  • What is Sinus Augmentation?

    The maxillary sinuses are behind your cheeks and on top of the upper teeth. These sinuses are empty, air-filled spaces. Some of the roots of the natural upper teeth extend up into the maxillary sinuses. When these upper teeth are removed, there is often just a thin wall of bone separating the maxillary sinus and the mouth. Dental implants need bone to hold them in place. When the sinus wall is very thin, it is impossible to place dental implants in this bone. A sinus augmentation procedure will strengthen the sinus wall. A small incision gives us access to the bone, where we create a small pocket which is filled with bone grafting material. The incision is closed, and the healing process begins. The grafting material becomes part of your jaw and the dental implants can be inserted and stabilized in the new sinus bone.If enough bone between the upper jaw ridge and the bottom of the sinus is available to stabilize the implant well, sinus augmentations and implant placement can sometimes be performed as a single procedure. If not enough bone is available, the sinus augmentation will have to be performed first, then the graft will have to heal for several months.

    Is there a way to minimize bone loss after an extraction?

    Several techniques can be used to preserve the bone and minimize bone loss after an extraction. In one common method, the tooth is removed and the socket is filled with bone or bone substitute. It is then covered with gum, artificial membrane, or tissue stimulating proteins to encourage your body’s natural ability to repair the socket. With this method, the socket heals eliminating shrinkage and collapse of surrounding gum and facial tissues. The newly formed bone in the socket also provides a foundation for an implant to replace the tooth. If we recommended tooth removal, we will discuss any necessary socket preservation. This is particularly important if you are planning on replacing the front teeth.

If you have questions about bone grafting and would like to schedule a consultation with Dr. Markle or Dr. Herman, please give us a call. If your dentist has recommended that you look for a periodontist, we look forward to meeting you and discussing your case. We're happy to answer all your questions. Please contact us today.

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Baton Rouge Perio

10723 N. Oak Hills Parkway, Building B
Baton Rouge, LA 70810

Tel: 225-396-4587
Fax: 225-769-9939

Baton Rouge Periodontists, Dr. Kenneth Markle and Dr. Jenny Herman, provide a variety of surgical and non-surgical services for the treatment of periodontal issues. We pride ourselves on the fact that we are very conservative in our treatment recommendations and limit surgery to the areas where it is absolutely necessary.

Proudly serving Baton Rouge Louisiana and the cities of Gonzales LA Prairieville LA • Denham Springs LA Central LA • Hammond LA Zachary LA • St. Francisville LA • Baker LA • LaPlace LA

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