Why Do I Need a Bone Graft?

We know that, as a patient, there are many times when you hear our recommendation for a specific type of procedure and ask yourself (or us) “Why do I need that?”.  The overall goal that we maintain as your dental professionals is to help you maintain a completely healthy mouth.  In general, most of our recommendations aim to help you keep your teeth or any existing dental work for a lifetime.

In the case of a bone graft, a few more details are necessary to explain why you might need one.  That is the topic of this week’s blog.

What is a Bone Graft?

A bone graft involves the addition of some type of bone or bone-like material into an area of the body that is deficient.  Surgeons can use actual bone from another part of your own body, bone from another human or animal, or synthetic (lab-made) bone materials.

Ideally, your body will incorporate the grafted bone material into its own bone in the surgical site.  This bone can then function in a normal, healthy manner.

What is the Purpose of a Bone Graft?

In general, bone grafts will serve one of two purposes.  When a bone graft is recommended around a natural tooth, its purpose is to improve the quantity and quality of bone surrounding that tooth.  This is usually part of the treatment for severe periodontal disease, in which a tooth has lost most of its supporting tissues.

We also use bone grafts to improve the quantity of bone in a site where a tooth is missing, and we plan to replace it with a dental implant.  Dental implants require a minimum amount of healthy bone to surround them in order to function properly.  If you do not have that minimum amount of bone, you have the option to undergo a bone graft for the purpose of augmenting the size of the bone in the future implant site.

The simplest type of bone graft is a “socket preservation graft”.  We use this type of graft to preserve the socket where a tooth has just been extracted, as the name implies.  When you lose a tooth, the bone in the extraction site begins to shrink.  A socket preservation graft slows down that shrinkage process and promotes a healthy quantity and quality of bone for future dental implant placement.

What if I do not Get a Bone Graft?

When your dentist recommends a bone graft procedure, the choice about proceeding with that treatment is yours.  You must understand the risks associated with not going through with the procedure, though.

If your situation involves severe periodontal disease, and you decline a recommended bone graft, the final consequence may be that you lose one or more teeth.  This is the result of worsening bone loss as the periodontal disease continues to break down the ligaments and bone surrounding the teeth.

In the case of a missing tooth that you are hoping to replace with a dental implant, a bone graft may be necessary to ensure you have adequate bony support around the implant.  One consequence may be that you are not a candidate for an implant at all.  Another potential consequence is that your dental implant could fail because it does not have adequate bone covering it.  We always want our patients to experience the best outcome of dental treatment, and a bone graft may be essential to the success of your overall treatment.

More Questions about Bone Grafts?

Call Timberlake Dental at 940-382-1750 today to schedule a consultation with Dr. Chowning.  He can answer any question you have about bone grafts in general or your own specific need for one.  Dr. Chowning has decades of experience in helping our patients keep their teeth or replace those that are missing.