If you lose a tooth to gum disease, it’s likely that you’ve lost more than the tooth. Often gum disease extracts a heavy toll in terms of bone loss, which can make it hard to get dental implants. A bone graft helps to restore the lost bone to help secure the dental implant. Many different materials are available for use as a bone graft, but now investors are hoping that coral will be the new hot material for the purpose and are growing coral to make bone grafts.
For many people who lose teeth to gum disease, bone grafts are necessary to ensure that your dental implant properly integrates into the jaw bone. There are many promising materials that can be used for bone grafts so that we don’t have to rely on your own bone material.
But we’re about to see another one available on the market very soon, as several companies has begun investing in growing coral specifically for the purpose of making bone graft material.
Inspiration That Seemed to Fizzle
About 25 years ago a doctor who was scuba diving with his nephew–at the time studying to be a doctor himself–was struck with the idea that the calcium carbonate that coral uses to make its own skeleton might make a great starting place for a synthetic bone graft material. Allit would take as heat, water, and phosphates to turn calcium carbonate into more bone-friendly calcium phosphate.
Unfortunately, this inspiration seemed to hit on some snags. It was easy to convert the calcium carbonate into calcium phosphate, but once in place the body wasn’t capable of dissolving the graft material, which meant it couldn’t be replaced by the body’s own bone material. And the not-replaced graft material contributed to infections.
As a result, the idea was put aside for many years.
An Investor-Worthy Breakthrough
Then came a new breakthrough just last year, from a team of Chinese researchers. They realized that instead of trying to convert the coral into a pure calcium phosphate material (such as hydroxyapatite, normally used in bone grafts), they could convert it into a hybrid form, which they call coralline hydroxyapatite/calcium carbonate (CHACC). The presence of calcium carbonate helps the body to break down and remove the donor material while replacing it with new bone.
The initial clinical trial was relatively small. But the results were sufficiently impressive that now a number of major investors are on board. We have yet to see how quickly this technology can be brought to market, and how it compares to other bone graft options, but it’s likely this new material will help to make dental implant procedures even more successful than ever.
If you would like to learn what technologies are available for making your dental implant procedure better, please call (702) 873-0324 for a consultation with a Summerlin implant dentist at the office of Dr. James B. Polley.