If there is insufficient bone for the placement of dental implants, it becomes necessary to ‘create’ the bone in this area prior to placing implants. This procedure of building up the bone is known as ‘bone augmentation’.
Bone augmentation is a very common procedure in dentistry and it is used commonly for dental implants and in periodontal procedures around natural teeth. In order carry out bone grafting, we need a source of bone to place in the deficiency.
The best bone is the patient’s own bone (autogenous bone) and this can be taken from other areas of the mouth usually the chin or the back of the lower jaw. Occasionally this bone is taken from areas outside the mouth, such as the hip. When bone is taken from the hip, it is usually done in the hospital by an orthopaedic surgeon and transferred to the dentist doing the implant procedure in the theatre.
Those preferring an easier but, slightly slower solution may opt for bone from other sources that has been specially prepared to make it safe for use in humans. All of these materials provide a scaffold for new bone formation.
New bone can take anything from 3 to 12 months before it is ready to receive dental implants. This results in increased treatment time but, can greatly improve the outcome of implant placement.
Small bone defects may be filled with bone or bone substitute at the time of implant placement. Bone augmentation may be supplemented by the use of a barrier membrane to separate the fast-growing soft tissue cells of the mouth from the slower-growing bone cells. This procedure is known as guided bone regeneration.
In the upper jaw, above the back teeth, it is possible to increase available bone height by creating new bone in the sinus, a procedure known as sinus augmentation. The options for graft and membrane materials will be discussed with you as will the probability of their requirement.