Understanding Bone Grafts

Understanding Bone Grafts

If you must have a tooth extracted, an option may be a dental implant. The implant is used to fill the void left by the tooth that was extracted. But, while it sometimes can be, it is not always as easy as simply replacing the tooth with the implant. To ensure that the implant is successful, a bone graft may be necessary.

When tooth loss occurs, there is often more loss of the bones that support the tooth. This tooth and bone loss can be the result of several different issues, including gum disease, cavities and infection, injury or trauma, and a defect in development. A bone graft replaces the deteriorating bone with a strengthened bone that will make it possible to insert a dental implant.

The reason that bone grafts are possible is because the bone tissue in the human body can completely regenerate, so long as it has the appropriate amount of space to grow. The bone graft is placed temporarily as the natural bone grows. Eventually, it will replace the graft material completely which will result in a fully integrated region of the new bone.

There are several different types of bone grafts that can be performed. The main difference in the bone grafts is the material used. At Vero Implants and Periodontics, we use three different types of bone grafts; autogenous grafts, allografts, and xenografts.

Autogenous Grafts

An autogenous graft is a bone graft that is harvested from the patient’s own bone. These are usually harvested by nonessential bones such as the iliac crest, mandibular symphysis (chin area), or the anterior mandibular ramus. If there is a large portion of bone missing, a bone block graft may be performed. In this situation, there is less of a risk of the body rejecting the bone graft because the bone came directly from the patient’s body. A disadvantage of the autogenous graft is that it requires an additional surgical site. This means that there is another area that could result in postoperative pain or complications.


An allograft is where the bone is harvested from an individual other than the patient. These bones are typically taken from cadavers where the bone has been donated to help someone living. Typically, these bones are taken from a bone bank. There are three different types of allografts that can be done; fresh or fresh-frozen bone allograft, freeze-dried bone allograft (FDBA), and demineralized freeze-dried bone allograft (DFDBA). While fresh-frozen bone allografts are typically not used for periodontal therapy, FDBA and DFDBA materials are widely used in periodontal therapy. Allografts often require the sterilization and deactivation of proteins that are normally found in healthy bones. A demineralization agent, such as hydrochloric acid, is used to remove the bone tissue that includes proteins and other materials that are necessary to successfully heal bones from the mineralized tissue.


Xenografts are bone grafts that come from species other than humans. The most commonly used xenografts are bovine bones which come from cows. These bones act as biological placeholders. At first, they prevent the collapse of the surrounding tissues and then fool the human body biochemically so that it sees the graft as a natural bone. This process is called guided tissue regeneration and resorbs the bone over time, replacing it with the patient’s own native bone.

If it is necessary to have a tooth extracted and a dental implant is the preferred option, you may need a bone graft first. This bone graft will be put into place to replace the natural bone that has deteriorated without the tooth that it supported. Over time, the body will regenerate with a new, natural bone coming in and overtaking the graft. Usually it takes somewhere between three to six months after the bone graft to have the dental implant placed, but this depends on the size of the extracted tooth. At Vero Implants and Periodontics, we offer three different types of bone grafts; autogenous grafts where the bone comes from the patient, allografts where the bone comes from a person other than the patient, and xenografts where the bone comes from a species other than humans, usually a cow. If you are in need of periodontal assistance, come to Vero Implants and Periodontics for treatment.