How do I know if I need a bone graft?

If you’ve been missing one or more teeth for a long time and are considering dental implants as a permanent tooth replacement solution, you’ve probably heard about the possibility of needing a bone graft.

Finding out if you need a bone graft is a straightforward, painless procedure but you will need to be examined by an oral surgeon.

Three-dimensional imagery

During your consultation the oral surgeon will create a 3D map of your jaw bone. Using this image, the surgeon can measure how much bone is available and determine where implants could be safely located.

The height, width and density of your bone will be analyzed as the long-term success of dental implants is directly related to the bone they are placed in.

Patients must have enough bone surrounding each dental implant for the titanium post to be accepted by your body. If insufficient bone is present, your oral surgeon may suggest bone grafting as a possible solution.

Bone graft post-extraction

Some patients choose to have a bone graft at the time of tooth extraction even if they are not necessarily planning to get an implant right away. This type of bone graft is called socket preservation and provides a few benefits:

  • It helps maintain facial structure and may prevent teeth from shifting.
  • It prepares the socket for an implant at some point in the future.
  • It minimizes the chance of a “dry socket”.

Is bone grafting painful?

Postop recovery for a bone graft is similar to other oral surgery. You will likely experience a similar level of discomfort as you might with a tooth extraction.

While bone grafts are not usually painful they do require some patience. Some bone grafts will require 4-6 months before they can receive a dental implant. Socket preservation grafts typically heal in 3-4 months.