Your Guide to Bone Grafts

Bone grafting is used to repair bone loss in your jaw. By increasing jawbone volume and encouraging new tissue growth, an oral surgeon can place dental implants in positions not previously possible.This post will help you understand what bone grafting is and what to expect from the procedure.

How does it work?

In some cases, oral surgeons extract heavily decayed or damaged teeth and immediately fill the space created with bone graft material, which can be natural or synthetic. When infection has damaged part of the jawbone, those sections will be removed and replaced with graft material as well. If a tooth has been missing for a long time and the gum has healed over, a small incision must be made to access the bone. Once the graft is complete, the gums are closed over it.

Over time, the body naturally replaces the surgically placed bone material with new bone, increasing the volume and strength of the patient’s jaw. Typically, the grafted areas will be ready for dental implants in three to six months.

Pre-op Imaging

To determine which sockets or areas of your mouth require bone grafts, computerized imagery of your jawbone will be taken and analyzed by your oral surgeon. This may be a single X-ray like is taken at your dentist’s office, or may be a 3D image that allows the oral surgeon to simulate placing implants into the jaws before the actual surgical appointment.

The day of surgery

Bone grafting is performed under a variety of anesthetic options but most people are very comfortable with a local anesthetic. Post-operative discomfort is similar to a tooth extraction and can be managed with ice packs and over-the-counter pain medication.

Patients can expect bleeding, swelling and bruising once the numbness wears off. Some facial and sinus pressure is normal. Immediately following your surgery, you will be asked to bite down on gauze until the initial bleeding has stopped.

Your oral surgeon will recommend a pain reliever such as ibuprofen or Tylenol or prescribe stronger medication if necessary. If an antibiotic is prescribed, be sure to take the full course as directed.

Post-op care

Discomfort generally subsides in 48 hours and surgical recovery is complete in a one to two weeks. Patients are advised to apply ice for the first 24 hours and to avoid hard or crunchy foods and strenuous exercise for the first few days. Drinking plenty of fluids also aides the healing process.