In the same way that muscles are maintained through exercise, bone tissue is maintained by use. Natural teeth are embedded in the jaw bone and stimulate the jaw bone through activities such as chewing and biting. When teeth are missing, the alveolar bone, or the portion of the jaw bone that anchors the teeth into the mouth, no longer receives the necessary stimulation it needs and begins to break down, or resorb. The body no longer uses or “needs” the jaw bone, so it deteriorates.
Over a period of time, the jaw bone associated with missing teeth atrophies and is reabsorbed. This often leaves a condition in which there is poor quality and quantity of bone suitable for the placement of dental implants. In these situations, most patients are not candidates for the placement of dental implants.
With bone grafting we now have the opportunity to not only replace bone where it is missing, but we also have the ability to promote new bone growth in that location. This not only gives us the opportunity to place implants of proper length and width, it also gives us a chance to restore functionality and aesthetic appearance.
When a bone graft is required, it may be placed at the same time as implant placement. However, if there is a lot of missing bone, the bone graft will have to be placed first and allowed to heal for at least 3-6 months prior to implant placement.