Dried coral isolated on white background

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.

A Long Research Cycle

The initial inspiration that coral material might be used for bone grafts came from a doctor who was scuba diving with his nephew, a medical student, in 1988 when he realized that the calcium carbonate of coral could likely be converted into the calcium phosphate of bone with heat, water, and phosphates.

Initial experiments didn’t turn out so well. Although the coral could be converted, it didn’t fully dissolve, so the body couldn’t replace it with its own bone material, and there were significant problems with contamination, leading to infections.

An Investor-Worthy Breakthrough

But just last year a Chinese team developed a new process that led to better results. Instead of attempting to convert coral directly into hydroxyapatite, the material normally used in bone grafts, they convert it into a hybrid form, coralline hydroxyapatite/calcium carbonate (CHACC), which leads to improved results. The original coral form is partly preserved, allowing it to be better absorbed by the body.

Their clinical trial was small, but the results were impressive, and now a number of companies are farming coral specifically for the purpose of bone grafting. Currently, the material is relatively expensive, but as more providers enter the market, the cost should come down, and we’ll have a better idea about the benefits available.

In the meantime, if you want to learn more about which bone graft option is best for your dental implants, please call (02) 9686 7375 for an appointment with a Baulkham Hills implant dentist at My Hills Dentist.