Do Implant Patients Always Need a Bone Graft

Do Patients Always Need a Bone Graft to Get a Dental Implant?

If you have been considering getting a dental implant to replace a tooth—whether it’s a tooth that’s been missing for a long time, or one that hasn’t yet been extracted­—you may have been told that you don’t have enough bone to do a dental implant.

What are the facts about bone grafts and dental implants?

  • Bone grafting sounds a bit scary, but it is actually a very simple procedure. In the past, bone grafting involved taking some of the patient’s own bone and “harvesting” it for use in the socket of the missing tooth so that there would be sufficient bone present to anchor a dental implant. This required a second surgical site, and sometimes there was not enough bone to harvest for the implant site. This type of bone grafting is no longer routinely performed for dental implants since it can be painful and result in complications. Today, there are other bone grafting options available that are much easier on the patient and work well to support dental implants. These options include human bone from a cadaver, animal bone (usually cow, pig, or horse), and synthetic (man-made) materials that are similar to human bone. When I do a bone graft in my office, I also add growth factors from the patient’s own blood, which helps to speed up the healing and recovery process and also results in more bone regeneration.
  • Not all patients who want a dental implant need to have bone grafting done. However, if you have been missing a tooth for years, then it is likely that a bone graft would be needed to place a dental implant. After doing a 3D cone beam scan of your mouth, your doctor can determine whether or not you need a bone graft and, if so, he or she can advise you about which type of bone graft material is best in your case.
  • Many times, tooth extraction, bone grafting, and the placement of the dental implant can be done all at the same time. Even if an implant is not going to be done immediately, or if the patient is undecided about getting a dental implant, having bone grafting material placed in the tooth socket at the time of extraction is the best way to prevent bone loss and allows the patient time to make a decision about the implant without needing a second surgery later to do the bone grafting.
  • Patients who have concerns about the use of human or animal bone are often very relieved to find out that synthetic bone grafting materials are available and can provide them with a reliable solution for their dental implants.

If you are interested in getting a dental implant, but would like more information on whether or not a bone graft would be necessary in your case, please discuss your case and the various bone regeneration options with your doctor. If you have any concerns about the advice your doctor provides, do not hesitate to get a second opinion from an implant specialist who routinely places implants and is experienced with a variety of bone grafting materials.

Don’t let concerns about bone grafting prevent you from replacing a missing tooth. Bone grafting is nothing to fear and provides you with a solid foundation to support your new smile for a lifetime.

Please feel free to contact me at Mission Dental Implant Center if you have any questions or if you would like to schedule a consultation.

Dr. Al Manesh, Periodontist & Implant Specialist
Mission Dental Implant Center