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What is a dental bone graft?

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A dental bone graft is a surgical procedure that involves building up the jawbone by attaching a section of bone donated from another part of the body, according to Mayo Clinic. Grafting is used to create a stronger jawbone foundation in preparation for dental implant surgery.

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A person with severe dental damage may need artificial teeth or metal implants that act as supports when the natural tooth roots are deteriorated, Mayo Clinic notes. However, an underlying jawbone that is too fragile, thin or tender usually can't bear the stress of implant surgery or the intense pressure exerted from chewing and other everyday tasks.

Bone grafting can help dental specialists add width or height to the jawbone to repair bone and tooth loss from complications such as infection, gum disease and cavities, notes Colgate Oral and Dental Health Resource Center. During the procedure, the surgeon makes an incision in the gums at the implant site, inserts the donor bone and secures it with screws. Additional marrow or synthetic graft material may be used to pad the area surrounding the bone, aiding in the fusion process.

The transplanted bone typically comes from the patient's chin, hip or shin, but it can also be donated from a cadaver or produced synthetically, according to Colgate. While chin and shin bone grafts are often performed in an outpatient setting with local anesthesia, having bone marrow removed from the hip usually requires an inpatient hospital visit. The graft is usually left to heal for six to nine months before the implant surgery takes place.

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