What is a Dental Membrane?

It is a barrier which prevents gum from growing into the bone cavity. Most bone grafts for dental implants have a membrane placed over the bone but under the gum, but there are other types and styles of membranes.

They can be broken down into two categories:

  1. Dissolvable or resorbable membranes, which consequently need to surgical intervention to be removed
  2. Non-dissolvable or non-resorbable membranes, which need to be removed surgically at some stage of the dental implant procedure

Dissolvable or Resorbable Membranes

A patient is receiving dental membrane

As of 2014, the resorbable membranes are made out of collagen – a protein widely used in cosmetics. It makes an excellent barrier and all the commercially available collagen membranes are 15x20mm in size and look like a flat piece of white cardboard.

A dental implant specialist will trim them with scissors and typically adjust it to cover the bone sticking out of the gum. Some resorbable membranes will dissolve very quickly in just a few days and they are commonly referred to as plugs, while some can last approximately 4 months, depending on the organic material it’s made (usually bovine Achilles tendon or porcine origin). Due to their dissolvable characteristic, titanium fixation tacks are rarely used to keep them in place.

There are cases where your own blood is used to make a natural resorbable membrane. Essentially, 1 to 6 tubes of blood are drawn and spun in a centrifuge machine to separate the layers out of it. It also concentrates your blood to be used for other preparations called PRP and PDGF, which are rich in platelet. PRF is durable yet slimy in consistency and protects the bone graft, speeds up the healing process, reduces pain and risks of complications.

Non-Dissolvable or Non-Resorbable Membranes

Image of nurse showing patiant xray and discussing dental membrane solution.

Non-resorbable membranes are usually made of titanium and dense polytetrafluoroethylene or PTFE. PTFE has been used for more than 30 years in cardiovascular applications because it is biologically inert and doesn’t cause inflammation. They cannot be dissolved by saliva and are often combined with bone tacks so that the membrane is kept stable while covering the grafted bone.

The advantage of non-resorbable membranes is that they are very predictable in generating bone. However, the downside is that you need to undergo another surgical procedure to remove it. The second procedure ranges from simply plucking out the membrane from the socket graft to completely reopening the gum and removing the bone tacks in order to remove the membrane, too.

Is it okay if the membrane is showing?

The answer simply boils down to whether or not the membrane was meant to be exposed from the beginning. If your gum was intended to cover the membrane for months, then it is highly likely you are just having a minor complication. This complication where the gum exposes the membrane and bone graft is called dehiscence, however, the more critical the bone graft is – the more critical it is for the tissue to remain closed with the membrane tucked inside.

A standard socket bone graft isn’t considered a critical procedure, so you need not worry should the membrane become exposed. Only if the outer wall is missing should it be considered as a critical defect.  

Maintaining a proper follow-up with your dentist is vital for the entire healing process to run smoothly. Yes, there are many collagen membrane manufacturers competing on the market, but surgical technique, training, expertise, and judgment of your dental specialist is far more important than any brand offering its products.

Contact us any time of the day, seven days a week, should you need more information about the dental membranes and its usage. If your dental implant fell out and you are in need immediate professional assistance, you can quickly set an appointment with us either via phone or website.