The jawbone associated with missing teeth will atrophy or resorb with time. This often leads to a condition in which the remaining bone is of poor quality and quantity, which is not suitable for the placement of dental implants. We, however, now have the ability to grow bone in the deficient areas by several means, giving us the opportunity to place the properly-sized implant to restore function and cosmetics.
A bone graft can repair defects created by missing teeth, gum disease or injuries. The grafted bone is either obtained from your own bone or from a tissue bank. Potential sites for harvesting your own bone include the jaws, tibia (knee) or in some cases the hip. Tissue bank bone is processed, sterilized and exhaustively tested. Most importantly, it is safe. Occasionally, the bone graft material can be mixed with certain growth factors to enhance its regenerative potential. In some cases, bone grafting is combined with sinus lift surgery.
In summary, bone grafting attempts to recreate the normal anatomy, so that the implant will be in the proper position for your dentist to restore, increasing its functionality, cosmetic appearance, and ultimately improve its longevity.
Soft Tissue (Gum) Grafting
There are two types of gum tissue that surround teeth. The tissue adjacent to the teeth is called attached gingiva. It is a tough, immovable tissue that is firmly attached to the tooth and underlying bone. This tissue deflects food as it comes into contact with the gums. Below the attached gingival of the lower teeth and above the attached gingival of the upper teeth is called alveolar mucosa. This is much looser and contains muscles which constantly contract and pull against the attached gingival. If the attached gingiva is insufficient, the alveolar mucosa will pull on the gingival causing it to recede.
Soft tissue or gum grafting can provide an adequate cuff of soft tissues around the teeth, restoring a more functional and esthetic condition. Gum grafts are usually taken from your palatal mucosa or from a tissue bank to cover exposed roots or thicken the soft tissues surrounding implants.