COVID-19 update: Office is open with policy changes.

COVID-19 update: Office is open with policy changes.

Dental implants have drastically changed the way dentists restore smiles. From being more permanent and providing comfortable wear,  more and more patients are choosing dental implants versus other restorations. However, dental implants aren’t right for everyone. One particular problem patients may run into is not having enough quality bone tissue to accept the dental implant. When this occurs, your dentist may recommend a bone graft.

But what is a bone graft? How is the procedure done? Are there different types? In this article, we will go over everything you need to know about receiving bone grafts to install dental implants.

bone grafts for dental implants


What is bone grafting?

Anything to do with exposing the bone can be undeniably worrisome. However, bone grafts have tremendous benefits that should far outweigh the worry of the surgical aspect. For example, bone grafts can give patients that opportunity to restore their full smile with dental implants. 

Bone grafts are a widespread procedure that helps stabilize the bone tissue. Tissue can decline from gum disease, tooth decay, and from long term denture wear. Dentists will recommend bone grafts, typically after traumatic injuries or excessive tooth decay, to improve the jawbone health and tissue quality. 

Using bone from another part of your body, bone grafts will provide an adequate amount of tissue needed to reshape the jawbone. This is a surgical procedure, and as such, it does carry its fair share of risks — the largest being the rejection of the tissue. However, the benefits of having a bone graft can be significant, including giving patients back their smiles.


What are the different types of bone grafts?

You might be surprised to learn that there is more than one type of bone graft. Typically bone grafts use your own bone and include a donor or even a full synthetic graft. The different types of grafts have to do with their location in the jaw.

Let’s look at the different types of grafts available and how they can improve your oral health or impact dental implants installed.

Socket graft

One of the most common ones your dentist may use is called a socket graft. This allows for a firmer base for the dental implant. The purpose of the graft is to protect bone and prevent it from deteriorating. Stabilizing the socket is essential for the dental implant to heal correctly. In 4 to 6 months following a socket graft procedure, you can have your dental implants installed.

Lateral ridge preservation graft

Your dentist may recommend a lateral ridge preservation graft for patients who don’t have enough jaw width to support or hold the dental implants. While other types of grafting material can be used for other types of grafts, lateral ridge preservations more commonly use human bone from your own body. The human bone will be used to increase the jaw’s width, which will allow for the placement of dental implants. 

Block bone graft

Injuries that occur to the job may result in additional trauma that affects the tissue. If the jaw has defects, it could make the area less supportive of dental implant placement. A large block of bone will be held with a black bone graft in place using titanium screws until the bone is bonded with the tissue. Once healed, you can then have dental implants inserted.

Sinus lift procedure

Another standard procedure done for implant support is a sinus lift. When the upper jaw is not stable enough to hold a dental implant, your dentist may recommend having a sinus lift. It is common to use equine bones to build a suitable base for dental implants. They do not dissolve as quickly as human bones and give excellent support. You can expect the healing process from a sinus lift to take 4 to 9 months.


When is bone graft for dental implants necessary


When is bone graft for dental implants necessary?

Dental implants can be installed just below the gum line, not into the jaw bone. However, most dentists recommend placing the implant directly into the bone. By installing dental implants in the jaw, they have better support, making the implant stronger for the restoration. Your dentist may advise a bone graft after an exam, and x-rays are taken. He or she will be able to determine if there is significant bone loss or quality to accept the implant. The success of the implant installation will greatly depend on the bone tissue present.


How it Works: Bone Grafting Procedures

What most patients are curious about is what happens during the procedure. It is a straightforward procedure. IV sedation is performed to ensure the patient is comfortable throughout the process. 

Then your dentist will make an incision in the area that requires the bone graft. 

If your dentist is using bone, from your own body, they’ll need to make another incision and harvest an additional piece of bone. Bone grafts can be used from your own body, horse bone, a synthetic source, or cadaver. The healthy tissue harvested will then be placed in the area of the jaw needing other tissue. Once the tissue is placed, your dentist will be able to sew up the incision, and the healing process will begin.

Is bone graft painful?

During the procedure, you will feel no pain. Before starting the practice, you will receive IV sedation. This means that you’ll be asleep during the entire procedure and feel zero pain. The healing process, for most individuals, is pain-free.  

Are there risks?

As with any oral surgery procedure, there are risks. One of the primary concerns following surgery is infection. Though the infection can be prevented by listening to your dentist’s advice for care after the procedure. Another concern is the bone graft dissolving faster than the graft can heal. This could require a patient to undergo another graft to build tissue.


Post-Care: What to expect after the surgery

After surgery, you can expect little to no discomfort. The healing process can take multiple weeks up to months. However, once the graft has fully integrated, the patient will be ready for dental implants. Good oral hygiene is essential following surgery. You should always follow your dentist’s recommendation for after-care. If there are any concerns or problems, don’t hesitate to contact your dentist. 



Though bone grafts are a standard surgical procedure, it’s important to understand the risks and complications that could occur. Bone grafts can be an excellent option for those that may have been denied dental implants due to the quality of their bone tissue. There are several types of bone grafts, including socket, lateral ridge preservation, bock bone, and sinus lifts.

If you’re interested in dental implants for completing your smile and are wondering if you’ll need a bone graft, we can help. Contact our office today by visiting our contact page or giving us a call at (714) 894-7700 during office hours.