Periodontal disease is an infection around the teeth that damages and destroys the bone. In recent years periodontists have found ways, in some cases, to grow the bone back around the teeth. These advancements result in saving teeth that were once thought to be hopeless. The idea of bone grafting is not new but the success that can now be achieved is dramatically better.
Bone grafting is also often used to immediately fill in an extraction socket. This allows for a greater amount of bone to fill in the area where the tooth was removed…a greater amount of bone makes implant placement and cosmetic results more successful.
The best bone graft material is the patient's own bone. The bone is harvested from adjacent bone during the periodontal surgery after the infection has been removed. This is a quick, painless and convenient method to acquire the graft material. The bone graft is then packed around the tooth.
Most of the time, the bone graft is then covered by a biocompatible membrane, which acts as a bandage to protect the bone until it has a chance to heal. This membrane is usually made of a material that dissolves in 8 to 12 weeks. The gum tissue is then closed with sutures over the bone and membrane, back to its original position.
If there is not enough bone in a near-by area during surgery to serve as a graft, other sources of grafting material are available. The most common of these is human bone that comes from a bone bank. We receive it in a medically sealed, freeze-dried form which is reconstituted with a sterile solution at the time of surgery. This trustworthy material is often used with the patient’s bone when a large volume is needed. Synthetic bone graft materials are also available but do not have the same abilities and success as human bone.
Recent research is showing some exciting potential in bone regeneration. Certain proteins can now be produced that, when added to bone grafts, increase the quality and volume of bone that can be regenerated. These bone morphogenic proteins (BMP) are making bone grafting even more successful.
Bone grafting and regeneration of new support for the teeth is today an everyday, common procedure in a periodontists office. These procedures cause no additional discomfort and are extremely well tolerated post operatively. There techniques offer another weapon against the destructive process of periodontal disease.