When a tooth is lost and the wish is to replace it with a dental implant, many times bone grafting will be recommended to provide a stable foundation for that implant.
The term “Bone Grafting” sounds pretty scary but in reality oral cavity bone grafting is a routine, predictable and painless procedure.
After an extraction there is a hole left in the jawbone that is surrounded by tooth supporting bone. The only purpose of this type of bone is to support a tooth and when the tooth is no longer present the body begins to absorb this bone unless it is replaced with an implant. Unfortunately this is not always possible because the hole is much larger than the implant or there is dental infection. In this case a bone graft is needed to fill the space prior to placing the implant.
The graft holds the volume of the space left by the tooth while the natural bone has a chance to fill the space with live bone. Depending on the size of the tooth that was extracted, a bone graft may require between 3 to 6 months before an implant can be placed.
The material used most often for oral bone grafts is bovine bone (cow bone) that has been sterilized and is comprised only of the mineral content of the natural bone. This avoids the harvesting of the patient’s own bone as it was done in the past.