Bone Grafting for Implants

Do I Have Enough Bone?

After tooth extraction, if the walls of the socket are very thick, they will usually fill naturally with bone in two to three months. However, when the walls of your socket are very thin (such as in your upper and lower front teeth), this type of healing will not be as predictable. In these situations, a bone graft is often placed at the time of tooth extraction to help your body fill in the empty socket with bone. This step will maintain the width and volume of bone you will need for implant placement several months later.

Upper jaw with inadequate front bone structure to support a dental implant; illustration
1. Inadequate Bone
Bone grafting material placed in upper front jaw to increase the bone structure; illustration
2. Graft Material Placed
After bone grafting healing, two dental implants placed in the front upper jaw with new crowns; illustration
3. Implants Placed

There may be inadequate bone for implant placement if your tooth was removed many years ago and your bony ridge is extremely thin. In this case, a bone graft can be placed next to the thin bone and allowed to heal for up to six months. After the graft has fused to your pre-existing bone, the ridge will be re-entered and the implant placed. Bone grafting is usually a relatively comfortable office procedure. Many different bone-grafting materials are available, including your own bone.

Upper jaw lacking enough bone in the back of the mouth for a dental implant; illustration
1. Inadequate Bone
After sinus lift healing - dental implant placed and crown restored in upper jaw; illustration
2. Graft Material and Implant Placed

You may also need bone grafting if the sinus cavities in your upper jaw are very large, or very low and extend into the tooth-bearing areas. This often occurs when teeth in the back of a person’s upper jaw have been removed many years before, and the amount of bone available for implant placement is limited. A “sinus grafting procedure” is then required. Most often, it is performed in the office with local anesthesia and perhaps sedation. During this procedure, the membrane that lines the sinus will be located and elevated. Bone will then be added to restore the bone height and ensure that dental implants of an adequate length can be placed. This procedure often can be performed at the time of implant placement.

Dental Implants Can Change Your Life

Our experienced dental team is excited for you to begin your tooth replacement journey. We're here to help you along the way, so don't hesitate to reach out to us to learn more or to schedule your appointment.

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