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Types of Bone Grafts


Missing teeth can have devastating consequences on the jaw bone. After time has passed, the jawbone in and around the missing tooth will begin to atrophy and reabsorb. This can be a major problem, especially if you are interested in dental implants, as there may not be enough quality bone available to have the implants put into place. In these situations, a patient likely won't be a dental implant candidate.

With bone grafting, missing bone isn't the end of the road, as we now have the chance to replace the bone and to promote the growth of new bone in that location. This will allow us to place implants in the proper position, but it will also provide the opportunity to restore the original appearance and functionality of your teeth and jaws.

Three Types

If you are in need of a bone graft, there are several options that might be considered.

Autogenous Bone Grafts

An autogenous bone graft, which may be more simply referred to as an autograft, is made from your own natural bone, but it will be taken from a different part of your body. The bone may be harvested from another portion of your jaw, chin, lower leg, skull, or hip. Autografts are beneficial in that live bone is used as the grafting material, so it will contain the cellular elements needed to encourage bone growth.

On the other hand, the autograft isn't a one-and-done procedure. You'll need a second appointment to harvest the bone, and if you are in poor health, going through two procedures might not be an option.

Allogenic Bone Grafts

Allogenic bone grafts, or allografts, are completed when dead bone has been taken from a cadaver. Next, the bone will be processed via a method of freeze-drying in order to extract water. Since the bone is not alive and does not include organic material, it won't be able to establish the growth of new bone on its own. Instead, it will serve as the scaffolding or framework over which the surrounding bone may be able to grow, as a way to fill the void or defect.



Xenogenic Bone Grafts
A xenogenic bone graft is created from non-living bone that is taken from another species. Most commonly, this is from a cow, and the bone will be processed at high temperatures to avoid the chance of contamination or immune system rejection. Similar to allogenic grafts, xenogenic bone grafts will serve as the framework for the bone in surrounding areas to fill in the void and grow.

Both xenogenic and allogenic bone grafts are beneficial in that they only require one procedure. Since bone won't actually be harvested from your body, when you show up for your appointment, you can have the bone implanted that day. However, these two types of bone grafts don't have the same bone-forming properties as the autograft, so regeneration will likely take longer. Further, it will be more difficult to predict the outcome and how well the bone will re-grow.

Scott M. Redlinger, DMD, MD

(775) 430-5355