Introduction to Dental Bone Grafts
When a tooth is extracted, a socket (space) remains where the tooth used to be. In the past, if a patient had a loose tooth or a tooth that needed to be extracted, we may have kept the tooth for as long as the patient was comfortable, and then extracted the tooth and fabricated a bridge or a removable denture to replace the missing tooth. We also would let the body fill-in the healing socket on its own.
What is a bone graft and why would I need one?
Today, with the increased success, popularity and availability of dental implants, it is necessary to preserve as much bone as possible in order to facilitate implant placement. The success of dental implants depends in part on the amount of bone available to hold the implant, and as such we want to preserve as much bone as possible when we take out a tooth.
A bone graft is a section of material that is placed in the empty tooth socket at the time of extraction - with the goal of trying to make sure that enough bone is available for placement of a dental implant. If you are planning to have a dental implant placed or if you are considering having a dental implant placed where you had the tooth out, it’s important to consider having a bone graft. The reason you should consider the graft at the time of extraction is because once the socket completely heals on its own, it is much more difficult to get a successful graft in place.
Can I have a bone graft later on - after my extraction?
Yes. Grafting can be done in many clinical situations, but the most successful grafts are done at the time of extraction.