Bone is one of the most amazing tissues in the human body. As the hardest tissue in the body, many people think of it as a stone, however this tissue has the ablitity to regenerate large portions of itself if assisted with a bone graft. Bone grafting procedures Have been around for centuries thanks to modern technology are safer and more predictable than ever.  Often bone grafts are needed for oral surgery procedures this technology restores integrity to the jaw bone to allow a patient to resume a high quality of life

The History of Bone Grafting

The first ever recorded bone graft took place in 1668 when a Dutch doctor, Dr. Jacob van Meekeren, placed a piece of canine bone into the skull of a soldier. The idea was that the bone would grow around this new fragment and heal his wound. It worked so well that when the patient asked for it to be removed, the doctors found that it had fully incorporated into his skull and thus the xenograft was discovered.  It wasn’t until 150 years later that more experiments in bone grafting were successful. In 1821 the first recorded autograft was performed and then in 1881 a humeral bone was fixed with a sample of tibia bone in the first recorded allograft.

By 1950 enough was known about bone grafting, its benefits and limitations that the very first bone bank was created. This knowledge made possible the discovery of demineralized bone matrix and bone morphogenic protein, which occurred in the 1960s. Over the past fifty years many osteoconductive, osteoinductive, and osteo-promoting materials have been created and used to make bone grafting a predictable procedure for surgeons, oral and otherwise to utilize.

Bone Grafting in Oral Surgery

Bone grafts can be used to treat any bone in the body. Yet the application of this technology in the mouth has enabled oral surgeons to accomplish brilliant things. The jaw bone is a very fragile bone and is unique because it can easily disintegrate if a tooth is lost. Many patients come seeking dental implants and help with their disappearing jawbones. With bone grafting technology oral surgeons are able to restore the health of this bone, place dental implants, and perform other procedures.

To perform a bone graft, bone is taken from a either a tissue bank, or your own body. It is placed where bone is lacking in the case of repairing a site for an implant or after gum disease, or where bone needs to be grown, in the case of a sinus lift.

Here are two of the four common and different types of bone grafts we perform at our Melbourne, Florida oral surgery practice.

Major Bone Grafting

Major bone grafting are performed to repair jaw defects, such as cleft palates, surgery after a bone tumor is removed, or after trauma. Bone from the patient’s own body can be used. Common harvest sites are the skull, hip or lateral knee bone. This slice of bone will be placed along with a special membrane that encourages bone regeneration. Over time bone cells called osteoblasts will be triggered and absorb this bone as they merge together and create a stable, new bone. This procedure is almost always performed in an operating room and requires a hospital stay.

Sinus Lift

A sinus lift sounds radical, but in reality it is a very predictable procedure. A sinus lift would be performed if a dental implant is needed in the maxilla bone. Often there is not enough bone in this area between the teeth and the sinuses to foster a healthy dental implant. To lift the sinuses, donor bone is placed in the bottom of the sinuses. After several months this bone becomes part of the maxilla and is strong enough to support the placement of a dental implant. Sometimes dental implants can be placed in the same procedure as a sinus lift, but it will depend on how much bone is already in that space. X-rays and thorough examination will be necessary.

Bone grafting has been quite a gift to the field of oral surgery. It enables oral surgeons to regenerate bone to secure dental implants, to lift the sinus and to correct dental trauma. Without bone grafting the field of oral surgery would look much different. In our next blog we will discuss the two other common applications of bone grafting technology at our Melbourne, Florida oral surgery practice.