Understanding Bone Grafting Techniques

Loss of Jawbone (Not just teeth!) is a Serious Consideration


When a tooth (or group of teeth) is lost due to various reasons, the tooth bearing element of the jaw bone is lost in an ongoing way with the passage of time. Dental implants can prevent further bone loss and deterioration, and help in maintaining good bone quality and volume. Dental implants look very natural, and can save you from the embarrassment of having to face others with a gap in your smile. In addition, as dental implants can function the same way as teeth do, you can continue enjoying your life without embarrassment or discomfort.

Bone grafting is done to add bone mass and volume to a patient’s jaws who previously did not have sufficient jaw bone volume to support the placement of dental implants. There are several bone grafting techniques that dental surgeons can do, depending on the patient’s specific need.

Animation: Bone Grafting

Animation:Bone Expansion

Onlay Graft

Onlay graft is the technical term for the bone graft type where bone is applied to the surface of the patient’s existing bone either on top or to the side. An onlay graft is usually used for cases when the patient experiences resorption or shrinking of the jaw bone, usually as a result of prolonged tooth loss. A healing period is usually necessary for the new bone to fully integrate with the surrounding tissues in the jaw bone, before dental implants can securely be put into place.

Block Graft

Block graft is used for cases when whole blocks of bone are needed to the grafting procedure. The bone tissue used in a block graft can either be harvested from another part of the patient’s own body, or may be acquired through an accredited tissue bank that supplies an “allograft” (human block cortical bone). The block of bone is measured and modified to fit to the affected area of the patient’s jaw bone that needs additional bone mass, and is then held in place with the use of small bone screws; these bone screws can be removed once the block graft has successfully healed and integrated with the surrounding jaw bone tissue.

Particulate Grafting

Particulate bone grafts consist of small particles of cancellous and cortical bone, and may be named in a variety of ways depending on which tissue processor provides the final graft. Particulate grafting provides a dental patient with a shortened treatment time, mainly due to the graft’s swift hard and soft tissue regeneration feature. Particulate grafts are ideal filler materials for bone voids, allowing the affected area to experience quick bone regeneration – which will then result to a shorter period of waiting time for the graft to heal, and for the dental implants to be successfully placed.

Interpositional Graft

This is a demanding technique that not many clinics can offer. The patient’s own bone is sectioned and moved into a more favourable position.  i e bone is moved to where it is needed to give more bone volume for implant placement. The bone is the patient’s own and it carries its own blood supply with it so there should be less risk of failure of the graft procedure. It is an elegant technique.