Bone grafting is a routine procedure which is often necessary to ready a site for a dental implant, and is used in areas where the patient has insufficient bone for the implants to integrate fully. There are four different types of bone graft which can be used, one of which is an Allograft, using bone harvested from a human donor, with the harvesting taking place after death.
After harvesting the bone is rigorously tested and is sterilized to ensure it is safe for use, and provided it is sourced from a reputable bone bank should not present any risk to patient. Certified bone banks radiate their supplies to make sure all organic contaminants are eliminated. There is minimal risk of any diseases being transferred, but there is a risk of the patient’s body rejecting the graft.
While it is generally a good material for bone grafts, and has been successfully used for many years, it is not unusual for patients to be a little squeamish about receiving a bone graft from a cadaver. If you would rather not go down this route there are other alternatives which are worth considering.
Alternatives to Donor Bone Grafts
One of the most successful forms of bone graft is an Autograft, which uses bone harvested from the patient. The bone is usually taken from either the hip or the mouth and the process requires two procedures, to first harvest the bone and then to perform the graft. Patients can feel a little sore for a while afterwards, but this type of graft does have one major advantage in that the rejection risk is virtually zero.
Another widely used graft is the Xenograft which is bone harvested from animals. The sterilized and treated bone is generally bovine, and acts like a filler, gradually being replaced with the patient’s own bone.
The third alternative is an Alloplastic graft which uses synthetic materials. Alloplastic grafts typically consist of calcium phosphate which is gradually absorbed by the body as natural bone growth occurs. Some types of synthetic grafts act as a kind of template or platform on which natural bone can grow, and are not reabsorbed by the body. Alloplastic grafts still carry the risk of rejection, but many patients prefer them as only one surgical procedure is necessary, and no donor bone is used.
The procedure to place the graft is very simple, but you may need to take a course of antibiotics afterwards to lessen the risk of infection. Healing usually takes at least four months, but healing times can vary from patient to patient and are dependent on other variable factors.