The Future of Bone Grafting

Bone grafts are used throughout the body to restore damage after a disease or an accident. The majority of grafts are done in the field of dentistry, especially after the loss of a tooth or long-term gum disease erodes the jaw bone. There are many potential causes of bone loss in the jaw and it’s impossible to place dental implants without restoring this tissue first. While modern bone grafting methods are quite advanced and offer low rejection rates, there is still room for improvement. Only time will tell what kind of new developments revolutionize the process of reconstructive dentistry in the future.

How Does Bone Grafting Work Today?

Bone grafting is currently the only solution for reversing bone loss in the jaw. While there are medications and other tissue stimulation methods used in other parts of the body, bone grafts are the only reliable method for dental care. They’re so common that they’re used before one in four dental implant procedures. Almost everyone who waits a few years after losing teeth before getting implants will need some kind of graft work to deal with the bone loss. Bone grafting is a surgical procedure that involves placing a material that bonds to the existing bone tissue. After a few months of healing, the jaw is restored to its original size and shape.

When is Bone Grafting Needed?

This kind of surgery isn’t automatically needed for every set of dental implants put in. Many patients have plenty of strong jaw bone left because they’re getting the implants placed as soon as possible after losing teeth. If you wait months or years with a gap in your teeth, the jaw tissue recedes under the surface. The surrounding teeth also tend to shift and reduce the viable bone tissue even further. Patients who lose teeth because of an accident or trauma may need a bone graft immediately to stabilize the jaw bone. Diseases like oral cancer and conditions that affect the bone marrow can also lead to jaw damage that is best treated with a graft before all-on-four dentures can be used.

Types of Modern Bone Grafts

There are four main types of material used for bone grafts today. Each material has its own advantages and disadvantages, so it takes a skilled dentist to choose the right one for each application. Rather than replacing the bone tissue itself, the graft is designed to act as a scaffold that encourages the growth of natural bone. The graft simply creates the perfect place for the jaw to regrow into a stronger form. The four types of modern bone grafts are:

  • Allografts, or grafts taken from other human sources with a high compatibility
  • Autografts, or real bone tissue taken from another part of your body, such as the hip
  • Synthetic grafts, also known as alloplasts, which rely on synthetic scaffolding like calcium phosphate
  • Xenografts, or grafts taken from the bones of compatible animals like cows and pigs.

Future Breakthroughs in Bone Grafting

There are many treatments being researched and developed at this moment that may soon revolutionize bone grafting. Most of them are applicable to the jaw bone even with the complications that can come with dental surgery. If you’re expecting to need dental implants in the future, you may undergo a far less invasive preparation process thanks to these future developments in bone grafting.

New Materials

Synthetic reconstruction materials continue to see development, mainly with the aim of shorter recovery times for the patient. Grafts made from your own bone or a donor material tend to have low rates of rejection but can take months to fully grow into place. New materials used in the future may be able to shorten the recovery time to just a few weeks, letting you get your dental implants sooner for a full smile makeover.

Stem Cell Treatments and Gene Therapy

Research into stem cells and gene therapy is increasing the hope that patients will soon regrow natural jaw tissue with little to no surgery at all. Injections or oral medication send a signal to the body to trigger the growth of new bone tissue instead of requiring oral implantology.

3D Printing

Along with the arrival of new synthetic bone graft materials comes the increasing potential for 3D printing. This manufacturing method could quickly create a custom-shaped insert for faster bonding and better bone tissue growth stimulation.

Bone Loss Prevention

Advancements in bone health treatments will also help future patients keep from losing the tissue in the first place. Dentists hope to one day offer their patients a medication or treatment that maintains existing jaw bone density after a tooth is lost.

Come see us at Oral Implants and Reconstructive Dentistry to learn more about your options for rebuilding your smile. We're the leading prosthodontist in Columbus and we're here to help you find the best bone grafting procedures for your needs and guide you through the treatment with the utmost care.

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