Guided bone regeneration (GBR) is the “backbone of modern implant dentistry” according to the September 2006 article in Dental Products Report. It is a procedure that stimulates the formation of new bone in your jaw where bone is deficient or lacking. This procedure is also known as bone grafting. In the 1970’s, a general dentist by the name of Tatum developed bone grafting for implants. Good quantity and good quality of bone provides a solid and necessary foundation to support a dental implant. Also, when bone is preserved in your jaws, it improves the soft tissue esthetics around a fixed bridge and implant and provides more retention for a complete or removable partial denture.

After a tooth is removed or lost, a series of negative events occur which result in considerable loss of bone. It is well established in the literature that in the first year after a tooth is lost, there is a 25% decrease in bone ridge width and a 4 millimeter vertical loss. After three years, there is a 40% to 60% horizontal and vertical loss of the bone ridge. Bone is like muscle – without stimulation, it atrophies or goes away.

Early bone loss can be reduced substantially if a socket grafting procedure is performed. Generally, it is most advantageous to graft immediately following the extraction of a tooth. After the removal of a tooth, there is a hole. This hole is then filled with a graft material that induces new bone to form. The graft material serves as a scaffolding to support the framework in which your own bone growth cells can proliferate and mature. This is called osteoconduction – the process in which a biomaterial provides a temporary infrastructure in which existing bone cells will congregate and initiate the process of bone formation. The longer you wait after tooth removal to graft the site, the more difficult it is to obtain the natural bone volume that you had before the tooth was removed. In some cases, so much bone has been lost over the years, that much more extensive and costly grafting procedures are needed in order to restore the missing teeth. Usually, within four months, the grafted area is ready for restoration with a dental implant.

If minimally invasive dentistry is your standard of care, implant dentistry is the standard of care for replacing teeth. So, it only makes sense that preserving bone should be your number one priority.