Today, more than ever, advances in medicine and dentistry have led to new and expanded areas of treatment. Procedures to repair and grow new bone are now part of routine dental surgical care.
Bone grafting is a surgical procedure that replaces missing bone with a material called a bone graft. This material not only replaces missing bone, but also helps the body restore lost bone.
This new bone growth strengthens the grafted area by forming a bridge between existing bone and the graft. Over time, the newly formed bone will replace much of the grafted materials. Guided bone regeneration (GBR) is a procedure in which a membrane is placed over the bone graft site. This membrane further encourages new bone to grow and also prevents the growth of scar tissue into the grafted site.
Bone grafts and GBR are needed when a part of the body, such as the jaw, is missing bone. This missing portion of bone is frequently called a "bony defect." Examples of jaw bone defects are: defects surrounding roots of teeth (periodontal defects); defects which occur following tooth extraction; generalized decrease in quantity of jaw bone from trauma or long-term tooth loss; defects surrounding dental implants; and, defects resulting from cyst or tumor surgery.
These procedures are usually done in the dental office under local anesthesia or local anesthesia with intravenous sedation and occasionally general anesthesia and thus are not painful while being performed. Post-operatively, there will be some swelling and some mild to moderate discomfort, especially from other procedures performed, such as tooth extraction or cyst removal. If a more invasive second procedure is required to obtain bone, for example, from the hip or chin areas, then post-operative discomfort will be increased but nevertheless manageable.
Generally, the same prudent care required after any dental surgical procedure will be sufficient following jaw bone grafting and GBR. The area must be kept clean. Undue pressure over the grafted site must be avoided until new bone is well on the way to being formed. Total healing typically takes approximately six weeks. Some grafts are taken from different parts of the patient's own body such as the hip bone or chin.
Other grafts come from human organ donors, from synthetic materials, and from highly purified bone mineral. Likewise, there are different types of GBR membranes. Some are made from synthetic polymers and must be removed during a second surgery several weeks or months later. Others are made from natural materials and are gradually absorbed by the body.