Patients considering dental implants in Washington, DC are often surprised to find out that their oral surgeon is recommending a bone graft as part of a comprehensive dental implant procedure. We understand that this may, initially, sound a little frightening and that there is some confusion as to what a dental bone graft entails. Two common questions are, what is a dental bone graft and why do I need one?

What Is a Dental Bone Graft?

In the past a bone graft for a dental implant procedure was indeed a fairly complicated surgery. Bone was harvested from the hip (iliac crest) of the patient and relocated to the oral site to provide enough bone for stabilization of the implant. While this technique does provide living bone there are several drawbacks. The necessity of a second surgical site adds risk and increases the recovery time of the procedure.

Luckily, the past 20 years have seen drastic improvements in the materials available for dental bone grafting. Increasingly this material is readily available in a bottle and our office is continually stocked with the materials Dr. Emery knows work best. Harvesting from the hip has been eliminated for all but the most complex cases requiring complete reconstruction of the jaw bone.

The materials available range from:

  • allograft (human)
  • xenograft (animal, usually cow)
  • alloplast (synthetic) materials

Even more recently biologic materials have become an option. These may use stem cells or growth factor proteins to stimulate the bone to grow.

Why Do I Need A Dental Bone Graft?

Our highly qualified Washington, DC oral surgeons may recommend a dental bone graft as part of your implant placement plan. Simply put, a bone graft is needed when there is not enough native bone present to support a dental implant.

There is a natural process called resorption that takes place anytime someone loses a tooth. Your body begins to break down the bone when there is no longer any stress on it, like the stress a natural tooth places on the bone through every day activities like chewing. When a jaw bone resorbs away it simply looks like it has melted.

If this is the case a dental bone graft is required to stimulate the body to regenerate bone. The body has an amazing ability to regenerate bone when a scaffold (bone graft) or other stimulant (stem cell, growth factor) is placed at the site where the bone is needed.

To schedule a bone grafting consultation, contact our office in Washington DC at (202) 386-7100.