Bone grafting is a surgical procedure that replaces missing bone in order to repair bone fractures that are extremely complex, pose a significant health risk to the patient, or fail to heal properly.
Bone generally has the ability to regenerate completely but requires a very small fracture space or some sort of scaffold to do so. Bone grafts may be autologous (bone harvested from the patient’s own body, often from the iliac crest), allograft (cadaveric bone usually obtained from a bone bank), or synthetic (often made of hydroxyapatite or other naturally occurring and biocompatible substances) with similar mechanical properties to bone. Most bone grafts are expected to be reabsorbed and replaced as the natural bone heals over a few months’ time.
The most common use of bone grafting is in the application of dental implants to restore the edentulous area of a missing tooth. Dental implants require bones underneath them for support and proper integration into the mouth. As mentioned earlier bone grafts come in various forms such as autologous (from the same person), Allograft, Xenograft (mainly bovine bone), and Alloplastic materials. Bone grafts can be used prior to implant placement or simultaneously. People who have been edentulous (without teeth) for a prolonged period may not have enough bone left in the necessary locations. In this case, bone can be taken from the chin, from the pilot holes for the implants, or even from the iliac crest of the pelvis and inserted into the mouth underneath the new implant.