There are times when oral surgeons need to increase the amount of bone in a specific area in a patient's jaw. Most common when an implant is involved, this procedure has been greatly enhanced by major improvements in the past few years. These improvements have allowed more patients to receive bone grafts, with less discomfort.
There are different bone-grafting techniques, depending on what a patient needs. For example, if the dental surgeon determines a patient does not have enough bone structure to secure the base of the implant, a major graft may be required to build up the area in question. In most of these cases, the procedure is performed by an oral surgeon months before the implant is placed into the jaw. A second common bone graft occurs when the surgeon determines there is enough bone for the anchor of the implant, but not enough bone to cover the sides of the implant. These grafts are generally smaller and can be performed at the same time as the implant placement.
The grafted bone material can come from a patient's available bone; another human bone from a tissue bank; processed bone elements from animals or a mineral bone substitute. The most effective material is your own natural bone, but all materials have been used successfully.