Bone grafting is the replacement or augmentation of missing bone around the teeth and in areas where teeth have been lost. It is often recommended prior to certain treatments, such as a dental implant procedure.
There are three types of bone graft procedures: autogenous, allograft, and xenograft.
Autogenous grafts take bone from one area of the patient’s body and transplant it to the location in the mouth being restored. The bone is usually taken from nonessential bones such as the chin area. The benefit of an autogenous bone graft is that the bone used comes solely from the patient, thus reducing the likelihood of rejection and infection. The bone is also still “live”, meaning it still has active cellular material.
Allografts also use human bone transplanted to the area in the mouth being restored. However, allografts do not use the patient’s own bone. Instead, the bone usually comes from bone donated to bone banks. All allograft bone material is carefully screened and is considered very safe.
Xenografts also replace bone in the area requiring treatment, however the bone comes from a non-human source. Usually the non-human source is bovine, or cow.
Allografts and Xenografts are used because they do not require a second surgical site to harvest bone and ample amounts of bone can be easily attained. Xenografts are often preferred when extra bone is needed to proceed with a dental implant procedure.