Did you know that over 500,000 dental bone grafts are performed in the United States annually? When you’re missing teeth, the areas of your jawbone starts to deteriorate since there are no teeth to stimulate the bone.

Dental bone grafting is a common solution to restore jawbone health and strengthen the jaw for dental implants. If you need a dental bone grafting procedure, knowing exactly what to expect will ease your anxiety overall.

Keep reading this guide to learn everything you need to know about dental bone grafting!

What Is Dental Bone Grafting?

A dental bone graft procedure increases the amount of bone in parts of your jaw that have bone loss. Dental bone grafts add density and volume to areas of your jawbone and can restore your jawline.

Many people get a bone graft if they have bone loss that affects the health of their teeth and gums. Dental bone grafts are also done to strengthen the jaw for dental procedures like dental implants. 

How Do Dental Bone Grafts Work?

Dental bone grafts help your body heal itself. Once the bone graft is in place, it acts as a scaffold that allows your bone tissue to regenerate and grow. 

What Types of Bone Materials Are Used?

There are different sources of dental bone graft material. The preferred type is autografts, or bone material from your own body, usually from your hip or tibia.

Allografts are bone materials that come from different people. Xenografts take bone from an animal such as a pig or cow. 

Finally, there are also alloplasts, a synthetic material made from calcium phosphate.

Types of Bone Grafts

There are three main types of dental bone graft procedures you can get, depending on your condition. These include:

Sinus Lift

If you have bone loss near your upper molars, your sinuses can move down. This type of bone grafting restores your upper jaw and moves your sinuses back to the proper place.

Block Bone Graft

Block bone grafts are typically done if you have bone loss near the front of your jaw. For this type of bone graft, your oral surgeon usually uses bone from the back of your jawbone.

Socket Graft

Typically this type of bone graft occurs when you have a tooth extraction. It prevents bone loss that occurs after tooth extractions.

When Do You Need a Dental Bone Graft?

Anybody with bone loss in their jaw typically will need a dental bone graft. Additionally, your dentist or oral surgeon will usually recommend a dental bone graft for situations such as:

  • Tooth extractions
  • You’ll be getting implants to replace a lost tooth
  • You need to rebuild your jaw to get dentures
  • You have bone loss due to gum disease

What Happens Before a Dental Bone Graft Procedure?

You’ll first need an examination to check the overall health of your gums, teeth, and jaw. You’ll also have dental X-rays or scans to evaluate how much bone loss you have.

Next, an oral surgeon will create a customized treatment plan that addresses your dental health and personal goals.

Your oral surgeon will also address any concerns or fears about the procedure. You’ll also discuss the different anesthesia options to minimize your discomfort and anxiety. Typical anesthesia options include nitrous oxide or laughing gas and IV medications that go directly into your vein.

Your surgeon may recommend that you stop taking medications like blood thinners before surgery to decrease your risk of bleeding. You may also need to avoid eating or drinking at least 12 hours before the procedure for certain types of anesthesia. 

What Can You Expect During a Dental Bone Graft Procedure?

Your oral surgeon will first numb your gum area with a local anesthetic, and you’ll also get additional anesthesia as needed.

Once you’re comfortable, your oral surgeon will make a small incision in your gums and move the tissue back, so your jawbone is visible. They’ll clean and disinfect the area before adding the bone grafting material to the bone loss area. 

In many cases, your oral surgeon will cover the area with a special membrane to protect it while it heals. Finally, your gum tissue is put back into place and stitched closed.

What Can You Expect After Surgery?

Immediately after your procedure, you’ll have gauze in your mouth to stop the incision from bleeding. A small amount of bleeding and oozing is normal for the first 24 hours after surgery. You may need to change this gauze and hold it firmly in place for 20 to 30 minutes until the oozing stops.

Swelling and Mild Pain

You can also expect mild pain and swelling for the first few days. Apply ice packs to your lower jaw for 10 minutes at a time to decrease swelling.


You’ll usually need to take antibiotics and pain medication like ibuprofen to prevent infection and reduce pain. Make sure to take these medications with a snack to prevent nausea.


You’ll need to be careful of the incision area immediately after surgery. So, it’s important to eat soft, bland foods such as:

  • Yogurt
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Soup
  • Milkshakes
  • Pudding

Avoid extremely hot food and crunchy foods such as popcorn or nuts. You can slowly start adding solid foods each day as you feel more comfortable.

Recovery Time

You’ll start to feel better within a week, and your pain and swelling should decrease. After a few weeks, your jaw will feel completely normal.

You may have to wait a few months for your jaw to be strong enough if you’re getting implants.

You’ll also need to see your oral surgeon for checkups to ensure you’re healing properly. Contact your surgeon sooner if you experience symptoms like:

  • Pain or swelling that becomes worse
  • Increased bleeding or you notice bright red blood
  • Pus or drainage

Talk to an Oral Surgeon About Dental Bone Grafting

Now that you know more about dental bone grafting, you’ll know exactly what to expect during your procedure.

If you need to find an experienced Oral and Maxillofacial surgeon, you won’t need to look any further than Jenkins, Morrow, and Gayheart. We offer wisdom teeth removal, dental extractions, dental implants, and orthognathic (jaw) surgery.

We also offer state-of-the-art dental care and ensure you get individualized care and attention. Oral surgery can be scary for many people, and we will work to make you comfortable, so you feel at ease.

We look forward to helping you, so make sure you contact us today to schedule an appointment!