Dental implants are a semi-permanent way to replace missing teeth lost due to trauma or decay. In the case of decay, the same infection that destroyed the tooth might have also damaged the underlying jawbone. Implants fuse to the bone so the jaw needs to be as strong as possible before the procedure. That's where bone grafts come in.
Human-derived grafts have a greater chance of your body accepting the graft and healing around the bone. There are two main types of human bone grafts and each varies slightly in its pros and cons:
Autograft: Your Own Bone
An autograft procedure uses bone harvested from somewhere else in your body. If you have healthy segments of jaw bone on the other side of the mouth, the oral surgeon will take a piece from there to fuse into the weak spot. Does your whole jaw have signs of decay? The surgeon might then need to take the bone from your hip or shin.
What's the key advantage of an autograft? It's easy for your body to recognize and heal around something that came from elsewhere in your body. So the osseointegration – or fusing together of the dental implant root and bone – should prove easier once the actual bone graft has healed.
The downside is that you will require two surgeries instead of one. If the bone has to come from your hip or shin, the healing process will be a bit more involved than it would've been with another type of graft or bone from in your jaw.
Allograft: Cadaver Bone
There are certain situations where the surgeon might not be able to use your own bone due to disease, injury or you not having the time to recover from an involved surgery. The good news is its still possible to use human bone for the quick-healing properties via donor bone. The bad news, for some, is that the bone usually comes from a cadaver.
The cadaver bone is tested and cleared of any potential infection or disease before implantation. Cadaveric bone can come in two varieties: freeze-dried and demineralized freeze-dried. According o the Centers for Disease Control, there have been no reports of disease transfer from one of these grafts in the more than 30 years the procedures have been performed.
Human Graft Better Than Non-Human?
There are other non-human graft forms available including bovine bone and synthetic materials. Human grafts might heal a bit faster but synthetic are less prone to decay as long as the surrounding bone remains stable.