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Home » Dental allograft: What is it, and how is it done?

Dental allograft: What is it, and how is it done?

A dental allograft allows people with eroded jawbones to have implants and dentures. It helps a patient’s jawbones regrow in volume and density, preparing them to treat missing teeth.

An allograft also helps with smile makeovers. Indirectly, it aids in preventing edentulism or complete toothlessness.

It is a common dental procedure and enjoys a high success rate. However, a patient’s body may reject the grafted bone under specific circumstances.

What is a dental allograft?

A dental allograft is a form of bone grafting procedure. Your surgeon will transplant grafting tissues into your socket to regenerate your bone. The tissues come from a donor or a cadaver.

The tissues are tested for infections and other diseases when grafts come from human donors. They are sterilized, frozen, and shipped to the dentist. Often taken from a cadaver, the tissues are processed and stored in a bone bank. This surgery has a very high success rate and little risk of rejection.

Allograft materials can be prepared in three primary forms:

  • Fresh
  • Freeze-dried
  • Demineralized freeze-dried.

Synthetic materials are also often used as grafting material in dental allografts. These materials can be in the form of powder, putty, or gel. These grafts are often used when donor material is limited, or grafts cannot be taken from the recipient.

Allografts can also be used in combination with xenografts.

What is the difference between allograft, autograft, and xenograft?

Allografts: Uses tissue from a human donor as a source of grafting material. This type of graft has a very high success rate and a low risk of rejection.

Autografts: This method uses the patient’s own body as a source of grafting material.

Xenografts: Uses tissues from an animal donor as a source of grafting material.

Dental allograft procedure

An allograft procedure includes the following steps:

  • The recipient area is numbed with anesthesia
  • The grafting material is shaped and then inserted into the recipient site
  • The site is then covered and checked for infection or other risks

The surgery takes about 2 hours, and the patient can usually go home the same day.

The surgery’s success relies on a few factors:

  • The health of the patient
  • The quality of the grafting material
  • Your surgeon’s professional experience may also have a say in this.

Can your body reject an allograft?

According to The Journal of the Indian Prosthodontic Society, dental allografts have a 90.9% survival rate with an 82.8% success rate. Although this is considered a very high success rate, some patients may suffer a rejection reaction to the graft. 

The reasons for allograft rejection may include the following:

  • The graft did not match the patient’s tissue type
  • The patient had an increased number of Natural Killer (NK) cells in their body
  • The donor had a different blood type
  • The donor was not properly or adequately screened for viruses
  • The patient’s immune system disorder interfered with the healing process
  • The patient’s antibody did not accept substances coming from a separate body
  • Donor tissues were not safely sterilized at the tissue bank
  • Contamination occurred during the tissue collection and culturing process

What are the symptoms of dental allograft rejections?

Although rejections are rare, it’s wise to be aware of their signs and symptoms. If you notice any of the following symptoms after a dental graft, be sure to contact your dentist:

  • Fever
  • Gum infections
  • Teeth sensitivity
  • Excessive pain
  • Swelling
  • Gum recession
  • Redness in the gum
  • Discomfort in the jawbone
  • Bleeding

If the grafting fails, the infection may spread to other parts of the mouth. That can cause many different complications.

How does an allograft heal?

The healing process for an allograft varies from patient to patient. Some patients may feel minor aches or notice swelling in the affected area, both of which are treatable with prescribed medications.

Most grafts heal entirely within a few months, but some may take up to a year. 

How Much Does an allograft cost?

Dental allograft costs are significantly less than what an autograft would cost. In the case of an autograft, you need to undergo two surgeries, while an allograft requires only one. The cost varies from clinic to clinic. Hence it may be between $500 and $1,500 per graft. Contact your local dentist or clinic to discuss the costs in detail.

How long does a dental allograft last?

Allografts are often very durable and can last many years. Can they last a lifetime? Of course, but no surgeon will guarantee that. Allografts may eventually require replacement if the recipient area experiences significant damage or bone loss. Jawbone loss may happen for many reasons, including facial trauma, bacterial infection, facial tumors, sinus deficiencies, and gum disease.

Is allograft the same as homograft?

Homografts and allografts are similar, but they can be different. Allografts are grafts obtained from donors of the same species as the recipient but are not genetically identical. A homograft is also a graft taken from the same species as the recipient, but it may or may not be genetically identical.

Is dental allograft safe?

Allograft is considered a safe and effective way to replace missing bone in the jaw. Some recipients, however, may suffer from a rejection reaction following the graft. This reaction can cause swelling, pain, and redness in the treated area. In this rare case, the dentist usually advises antibiotics or other medications to help control the reaction. If the rejection reaction is severe, the patient may need to remove the graft.

Final Word

Many factors influence the success of an allograft, such as the recipient’s health, the grafting material used, and the surgical techniques employed. Although rejection is rare, it is crucial to be aware of the signs and symptoms in case they occur. 

FAQ

What are alloplastic bone substitutes?

Alloplastic bone substitutes may be ceramic, hydroxyapatite (naturally occurring mineral form of calcium apatite), tricalcium phosphate (calcium salt of phosphoric acid), or calcium sulfate. Polymer-based bone grafts, for example, Healos, use degradable and nondegradable polymers. Alloplastic substitutes come into the scene when patients refuse to accept tissues from another human being for ethical or religious reasons or an animal, fearing transmission of diseases.

What can increase the risk of bone graft failure?

Periodontal diseases are the number one cause of bone graft failure. Other factors, including smoking, surgical errors, Osteoporosis or bone erosion, low calcium intake, eating disorders, uncontrolled diabetes, immune deficiency disorders, and certain viruses (HIV) may also contribute to it.

Sources

  • C. Thomas VangsnessJr. MD. Noyes’ Knee Disorders: Surgery, Rehabilitation, Clinical Outcomes. 2010.
  • Elisya Liyana Abdullah, Maisarah Jalalonmuhali, Kok Peng Ng, Farhi Ain Jamaluddin, Soo Kun Lim. ‘The Role of Lymphocyte Subset in Predicting Allograft Rejections in Kidney Transplant Recipients.’
  • S. Elakkiya, A. S. Ramesh, and K. Prabhu. ‘Systematic analysis on the efficacy of bone enhancement methods used for success in dental implants.’ The Journal of the Indian Prosthodontic Society. 2017 Jul-Sep; 17(3): 219–225. The authors concluded that ‘autologous bone grafts can be preferred over allografts and xenografts for grafting implant sites, which showed less complication and high success rate.’
  • Rusin Zhao, Ruijia Yang, Paul R. Cooper, Zohaib Khurshid, Amin Shavandi, and Jithendra Ratnayake. ‘Bone Grafts and Substitutes in Dentistry: A Review of Current Trends and Developments.’ Molecules. 2021 May; 26(10): 3007.
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