So, you’ve been told that you need a bone graft for a dental implant? We understand that this may sound a little scary but we’re sure that once the reasons for performing a bone graft and the procedure are explained to you, you’ll feel more comfortable and prepared to go ahead with bone grafting treatment.


Why does bone loss occur when teeth are missing?

When a tooth falls out or is extracted the body thinks that the bone which supported the tooth is no longer needed and so it starts to take the bone back into the body. Unfortunately, over time and with widespread tooth loss, this causes the jaw to change shape and for those aging hollows to appear in your face.

Sometimes, a patient may have left it too long before deciding to go ahead with dental implants and, as a result, is lacking the depth of bone needed to support them. Hence, the reason for a bone graft for a dental implant.

Just like teeth, dental implant posts need the support of bone in the jaw to give them the strength and stability to be able to support a dental crown, bridge, or denture. To place dental implants into a site lacking the necessary depth of bone would be foolish and increases the risk of dental implant failure.


Where does the material for bone grafting come from?

There are various types of bone graft material and which you elect to have may depend on your budget, your lifestyle, or dental health, and your personal preference.

  • Xenograft – This is made from bone taken from animals – usually cows or pigs. It’s not often used these days although it is safe and in plentiful supply and a secondary donor site is not necessary
  • Allograft – This is human bone taken from a donor bank
  • Autogenous – This is bone that’s taken from the patient’s own body and grafted onto the dental implants site in the mouth. Common places for the bone to be taken are the chin or areas where wisdom teeth are located in the jaw. If a large amount of bone is needed, then the hip or shin bone can be used.
  • Alloplast – This is one of the most popular choices for patients because it involves synthetic materials being used and again, there is no need for a second donor site.


Bone grafts give us, dentists, the ability to grow bone where it’s most needed so that the dental implants can be placed in exactly the right position. This means we can confidently place dental implants of the right length and width while restoring bite functionality and aesthetics for the patient.


Types of bone graft for a dental implant

Extraction socket bone graft

This is the very best way to prevent bone loss from occurring when a tooth is extracted. It’s cost-effective, minimally invasive, and can be performed at the same time as tooth extraction, paving the way should a patient want dental implants in the future.

Ridge modification

This is an effective option for treating bone loss that has occurred in the upper or lower jaws. Bone loss may have occurred due to wearing dentures, injury or periodontal treatment and has left insufficient bone for dental implants to be placed.

Sinus lift

This is sometimes necessary if the upper part of your jaw is drooping or low and there simply isn’t enough space in which to place your dental implants.  The bone is added between your jaw and the sinuses located on either side of your nose by lifting up the sinus membrane and increasing the depth of bone on the sinus floor with the aid of a bone graft. Once done, the dental implants can eventually be placed safely and securely.


How bone grafting is performed

Prior to recommending a bone graft, your dentist will have used CT scans and X-rays to determine the depth of your bone, the exact location for the bone graft, and the size of the graft needed. This will help with the decision as to which type of bone graft material to use.

On some occasions, minor bone grafts can be done at the same time as tooth extraction and are carried out with a local anaesthetic in the dentist’s chair. More complex bone grafts may require bone to be removed from your hip or shin bone before being implanted into your jaw at the implant site and this may involve a general anaesthetic and a trip to the hospital.

In minor bone graft cases, an incision is made in your gums above the implant site, and the bone graft material is suitably secured before your gums are sutured back together. A membrane may also be placed over the graft in order to protect the site and promote new bone growth.


How will you feel after bone graft surgery?

Following your surgery, you’re bound to feel a little discomfort and may suffer from light bleeding and swelling to the affected area. Don’t worry as these symptoms will soon disappear and can be treated in the interim with over the counter pain killers.

You’ll need to rest for a couple of days and stick to a soft diet for a couple of weeks. Don’t forget to maintain brushing and flossing but do so very gently around the graft site, so as not to harm it.

Full healing can take 3-6 months and then you should be able to receive your dental implants.

Complications with bone grafts prior to dental implants are unlikely, provided you choose a reputable dentist such as Scott Street Dental. If you’d like to know more about the bone graft procedure or find out if dental implants are for you, then why not book a consultation with the experts at Scott Street Dental. Call us today on (02) 9158 6393 or (02) 9158 6313 and take the first step to a beautifully restored smile.

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