Over a period of time, gum disease can damage the jawbone next to the teeth. This often leaves craters in the bone. In some situations we now have the ability to grow bone where it has been lost around teeth. We do this with a bone graft. After we lift the gum and clean the tooth root, we place the graft materials into the crater to stimulate the body to replace the materials that were inserted and re-grow new bone. Many grafting materials are available. Today, there are new biologically active gels and growth factors that can be added to the graft to help stimulate and enhance new bone growth more effectively.
When a tooth is extracted the bone begins to shrink immediately. In the top jaw, the bone can shrink up to 25% within the first 3 months after a tooth has been removed. Today, when a tooth is removed and when an implant is planned we graft the extraction socket to prevent shrinkage. A graft can reduce shrinkage from 25% to 8% and help preserve bone so that an implant can be placed.
In situations where significant bone loss has occurred after a tooth has been removed and the jaw has lost too much bone volume patients may not be candidates for placement of dental implants unless the bone is regained. A variety of bone building techniques are used to regain this bone depending on the location and the severity of the bone loss. The various techniques may include: