Bone grafting is performed in about 80% of implant patients at our practice, and it is nothing to fear. Bone grafting is used either to maintain bone volume after the extraction of a tooth, or to increase the amount of bone available at a site in which we wish to place an implant. There are several materials available which can be used as bone substitute:
- Your own bone (also called ‘autogenous’ bone). If this option is chosen, we source bone from somewhere else in your mouth and then reposition it in the desired place. Autogenous bone is an ideal material for grafting, however its use does require us to perform surgery elsewhere in your mouth, which is a disadvantage. For this reason we usually prefer to use a bone substitute material, as below.
- Porous bovine bone substitute (Bio-oss). This is a white powdery material derived from bovine collagen. It is 100% safe and its properties are very similar to autogenous bone. It is the material that we use most commonly at our practice.
- Other bony substitute materials available include synthetic material, material derived from non-bovine animal sources, and material derived from coral. The properties of these materials are in our opinion not as favourable as those of Bio-oss, and we consequently do not use them often.
In the months after a bone graft, the bony substitute material is gradually replaced by your natural bone. This process is complete after approximately four to six months, at which time an implant can usually be placed in the site. After about 18 months, if an implant is not placed in the site, the new bone starts to shrink away, so it is important to have your implant placed within 18 months of your bone graft.