In some situations because of infection, gum disease, or following an extraction, insufficient volume of bone remains into which to place dental implants. This can be corrected by a process known as bone augmentation.
A bone graft can be taken from a site elsewhere in the mouth but usually the area of the lower wisdom teeth or under the lower front teeth, and positioned and secured in the area lacking bone.
The preferred site is in the area of the wisdom teeth in the lower jaw. This site is easily accessible and heals rapidly with very few potential complications. A nerve in the lower jaw can create problems if it travels close to the area of the required graft, as damage to this nerve will lead to numbness of the chin or lip on the affected site. Nonetheless with careful planning such an eventuality can be minimised and the graft site remains an excellent choice.
The area below the lower incisor teeth in the lower jaw is also an excellent site to take a bone graft, particularly if more bone is required and is more often the area of choice if there is insufficient bone available at the back of the lower jaw.
Access is sometimes more difficult, and there is on occasion temporary numbness to the chin area in the weeks after the graft procedure.
After three or four months, or when the bone graft has become fused, dental implants can be placed into the new bone.